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Lobos hoping Patterson can provide some more big plays

New Mexico’s Cedric Patterson III (11) celebrates his touchdown against New Mexico State last month with Marcus Williams. JIM THOMPSON/JOURNAL

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

It’s called the Scramble Drill.

Well, that’s the name for it on the University of New Mexico football team. The Scramble Drill is an improvisation of sorts that the Lobos quarterbacks and receivers know very well.

It came into effect for quarterback Sheriron Jones and wide receiver Cedric Patterson III late in the game against San Jose State on Friday. The play could have easily gone unnoticed as the game was out of reach for the Lobos during their frustrating 32-21 loss to the Spartans.

Jones scrambled toward his right when he saw Patterson turn up field, breaking from his curl route, which is what he is suppposed to when a play breaks down as such. Patterson, with his game-breaking speed, had significant separation from his defender, and it turned out to be an easy 38-yard touchdown pass from Jones, who delivered an accurate throw on the run.

“It was one of Sheriron’s best plays since he’s been here,” said UNM coach Bob Davie, who admired Jones’ accuracy on the throw.

Davie was also impressed with Patterson, who continues to emerge. The speedy, 5-foot-11, 170-pound redshirt freshman also continues to gain confidence with his role in an offense that has lacked consistency.

The Lobos (2-3, 0-1 in Mountain West Conference) will need Patterson’s big-play ability in their quest to snap a two-game skid against Colorado State (1-5, 0-2) Friday night at Dreamstyle Stadium.

Patterson, who is from Crosby, Texas, has just four catches this season, but two of them have gone for touchdowns, including a 62-yard reception in a 55-52 win over rival New Mexico State on Sept. 21, when he showed his remarkable speed with his yards after the catch. He caught the ball on a short pass near the Aggies’ sideline and outran the defense for the touchdown.

With 132 yards receiving he is averaging 33 yards per catch.

“I think I can bring speed to the table,” Patterson said of his game. “I have breakaway speed. It’s just my little niche.”

Everyone on the Lobos knows about Patterson’s “little niche.” And if they don’t know, he’s confident enough to tell them.

He was asked if he could win a foot race against some of his teammates, and before he was told the names of the other guys, Patterson had already answered.

“Me,” Patterson said. “No doubt.”

That race would be against two of the Lobos fastest receivers, Jay Griffin IV and Elijah Lilly. The latter is out for the season after he had surgery on his right labrum Sept. 25.

Davie didn’t seem too worried when Lilly went out because the UNM coach believed there was great depth at the wide receiver position. Patterson wants to continue to prove that.

“When (Lilly) went down we all knew everyone had to step it up,” Patterson said. “When the play is called, you have to make the play. You have to raise your level of intensity and get better to make up for the loss at receiver.”

Patterson said he chose to play at UNM because he said the team felt like a family when he came on a visit two years ago. That was when the Lobos were using the triple-option on offense.

“They showed me the plays and I said, ‘I can get down with this,” Patterson said.

But he became even more excited when the Lobos made the switch to a spread-based offense last year after he had already committed to the Lobos.

Patterson has made great progress since redshirting last season, said Scott Baumgartner, UNM’s wide receiver coach. Last spring, Patterson struggled with catching the ball, Baumgartner said, but he improved and has gained more confidence from his contributions this season.

“We knew he had the ability and just to do it now and to see that, it’s great,” Baumgartner said. “It’s a lot of fun. He’s a guy you can trust and you can rely on. You can put him in and not miss a beat.”

The UNM offense regressed in San Jose because a lack of execution, along with six turnovers. But Patterson believes the Lobos can get it right against the Rams.

“The sky’s the limit,” Patterson said of the UNM offense. “We still have so much we can improve on. The plays are there. We’re going to have to get better. We just have to execute. When we put it all together, it’s going to be problems (for opponents).”

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