Productivity in the running game came in a diminutive package Saturday for the University at Buffalo football team.
Running back Jaret Patterson is listed at a generous 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, and ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in the Bulls’ 42-13 win Saturday at Rutgers.
“I read my primary and secondary reads, and I just took advantage of the holes the O-line made for me,” said Patterson, a freshman from Glendale, Md. “That’s the key to it.”
The Bulls are sixth in the MAC in rushing offense (163 yards) as they prepare to face Army (2-2) at noon Saturday at UB Stadium. Patterson is the fourth player to lead UB in rushing in its first four games. Johnathan Hawkins ran for 37 yards on eight carries in a 48-10 win Sept. 1 against Delaware State, and Kevin Marks ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-29 win win Sept. 8 at. Emmanuel Reed ran for 68 yards on 15 carries yards in a 35-28 win Sept. 15 win against Eastern Michigan.
With so much production from multiple options, UB coach Lance Leipold has yet to officially name a No. 1 running back this far into the season, but praised Patterson for his quickness and balance.
“There’s a different time for different backs,” Leipold said Saturday. “But he made some plays and saw some creases and then, of course, made it happen.”
Patterson gave UB (4-0) a 7-3 lead against Rutgers about seven minutes into the game on a 42-yard touchdown run, then scored his second touchdown on a 4-yard run with 3:34 left. Paterson also helped the Bulls capitalize on field position late in the first half, breaking for a 20-yard run on first-and-10 from the UB 50.
“Right now, I’m in the small role,” Patterson said. “I’ve got to take advantage of my opportunities. I’ve got to keep getting better. Coach K (offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki) stresses every week, daily improvement. Just keep getting better at practices so he can trust me on the field.”
Patterson and his twin brother James, who is a linebacker, signed with the Bulls as part of their 2017 recruiting class, but Jaret Patterson enrolled at UB in January of 2018 as a grayshirt. Grayshirt recruits can take classes at school in the fall, but do not officially join a football program until the spring semester.
Given his bantam stature, Jaret Patterson models himself after former Buffalo running back Branden Oliver. Oliver ran for 33 touchdowns and a school record 4,049 career rushing yards from 201o to 2013 at UB.
Jaret Patterson ran for 2,045 yards and 29 touchdowns on 187 carries in his senior year at St. Vincent Pallotti in Laurel, Md.
Patterson ran for 71 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in his first three games at UB, but his previous game-high for rushing was nine carries for 35 yards against Eastern Michigan.
Bulls quarterback Tyree Jackson expected Patterson to make the most of his opportunities. Jackson recalled how all he saw Patterson do was work during the offseason.
“We all knew that big game was coming from him,” said Jackson, who threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns on 14-of-28 passing, with two interceptions at Rutgers. “He’s been showing that, all spring, all summer. He’s an unbelievable player. It’s great to see that, because he is a great player and a great person.”
Patterson’s tenacity has impressed wide receiver Anthony Johnson.
“He gets the ball, he makes guys miss, he can run you over,” Johnson said. “He just fights. I love that guy. He’s really a great freshman and he has a few more years. He’s going to be an outstanding player.”
Patterson set a personal milestone in a Big Ten Conference stadium, but a few minutes after the Bulls wrapped up the win against Rutgers, he was already focused on UB’s game against Army.
“It felt really good, but I can’t dwell on it too much,” Patterson said. “We’ve got Army next week, but it’s a great feeling, and now it’s back to work.”