The Hawkeyes are averaging 3.25 yards per carry through two games, and have rushed for just 200 total yards. That places them 107th out of 130 eligible teams.
A bright spot has been redshirt freshman Jaziun — or “Jaz” — Patterson. So far, Patterson owns the biggest play of the season: a 59-yard burst against Iowa State. His 10-carry, 86-yard performance against the Cyclones was a breakthrough for a player who wasn’t even sure he would see much playing time.
“My emotions were running wild, because I didn’t think I was going to do this,” Patterson said. “But, I did.”
“Jaz, I mean that dude is relentless,” quarterback Cade McNamara said. “He is willing to throw his body for the team, and we know how hard he runs, and if there’s something that he brings to this team then we’re happy that he’s on our team.”
Up until that point, Patterson had just 19 carries for 45 yards. He was the 4th string running back on the depth chart as a true freshman in 2022.
“Jaz has performed the way he’s been practicing, and he performs the same way,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s blocked well in camp and that’s a big part of being a back and that keeps guys off the field.”
Patterson’s ability to hold his own in pass protection may earn him more playing time. The most notable was when he took on two defenders on his own, setting up a 23-yard completion to Erick All.
“We had two guys off the edge and Jaz literally dove and took out two guys at one time and it gave me just enough time to get the ball to Erick,” McNamara said.
“He’s got a real hardness to him, whether that’s block or running,” Ferentz added.
Patterson finally got a chance to shine, and he’s likely earned himself more opportunities to tune up the Hawkeyes offense moving forward.
“I just kept my head down every day and just worked,” Patterson said. “I knew my time would come, and when it would come I would show up.”
“He did a good job in spring session, he did a good job during camp,” Ferentz said. “Hopefully he’s got a lot of good football left ahead of him.”