Brooks: New WR Patterson Focused On Catching Up - Fast
BOULDER - Colorado's "transfermation" at receiver finally is complete.
Travon Patterson underwent his first full practice Tuesday morning with the Buffaloes, offering glimpses of the stretch-the-field possibilities CU recently has lacked at his position.
"That's huge," coach Dan Hawkins said of the speed the Buffs now boast at receiver with the addition of transfers Patterson (Southern California) and Toney Clemons (Michigan).
"I mean, it helps your run game, it helps everybody," Hawkins continued. "When (defenses) know you can't run by 'em, they're just going to squat on everything and dare you to run by 'em."
The Buffs routinely encountered that last season, struggling to generate a ground game as defenses "stacked the box" with safeties and shrugged off the probability of a deep CU passing threat.
The overall lack of speed also factored into neutralizing the Buffs' short passing game, said Hawkins: "You can't run your underneath stuff because they just sit there. Nobody backpedals and they factor that into their coverages and drop those extra guys down for the run . . . . Now you can run and stretch that thing."
Patterson's transfer from USC was finalized on Monday, allowing him to enter the huddle and begin running routes midway through the morning's work. But on Tuesday mornng, he was a start-to-finish participant.
"It feels great," he said after the first of the team's two practices. "It was frustrating the first two days to not be able to be out here with my team. But I'm finally clear and ready to roll."
Hawkins called the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Patterson, who has run a 4.3 second 40-yard dash, "a veteran guy who has that maturity to him. Nobody can just jump right in and get going, but just the way he carries himself he's got a little veteran savvy."
In Monday's drills, Patterson joined the No. 2 offense for most of his work. Receivers coach Robert Prince said nothing should be read into that initial placement: "What I wanted to do was look at the script . . . it was kind of impromptu. We just said let's get him some reps; it wasn't necessarily in group one, two or three. It was let's see what play it is."
Prince called Patterson "a very smart guy who understands pass concepts. I think that will get him on the field quicker. And the faster he can get out there, the more he can do and play fast."
Still, both Prince and Patterson, of Long Beach, Calif., admit there is ground to be reclaimed. Some of that involves conditioning, said Patterson: "I need to get back in shape; I've been resting for a week. Once I get back in shape, I'll be able to catch up.
"There are little things technique-wise and getting more familiar with plays. I've got it a little bit, but as I get more familiar with the offense and get my technique back, I'll be all right."
Prince said Patterson hasn't yet had the opportunity to do the "route tree" - pass routes that play off each other or set one another up. "He's only been out for a minute," Prince said. "Shoot, there's so many things we're working on, we're going to be playing catch-up with him and Paul (Richardson, a late arrival who initially signed with UCLA)."
Yet Patterson's time in the USC program should help him catch up quickly. "USC has been a very successful program and they've had some very good receiver coaches and some very good offensive schemes. I think it'll help him," Prince said.
Until Monday, Patterson had been relegated to a spectator's role, watching the Buffs work since preseason camp began the previous Thursday. He said faith in God, the work of athletic director Mike Bohn and his relationship with offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau carried him through the Pac-10 Conference administrative process needed to clear his transfer. Bohn made frequent trips to the practice field and kept him apprised of the daily progress when there was progress to report.
"So that was good; every time they heard something they let me know," Patterson said.
With Patterson joining Clemons, senior Scotty McKnight and a handful of other players Prince is counting on, the receiver corps has been upgraded. Patterson called it "a great unit. There's a lot of talent, so it's going to be a big year for us."
Last season's position coach - Hawkins - thinks so, too: "I told 'RP' I picked the wrong year to coach receivers."
PARKING WATCH: The Buffs' first fall camp scrimmage is open to the public and set for Thursday from noon to 3 p.m. at Folsom Field. The only public parking on campus during the work week is in metered spaces. Campus parking officials will ticket cars without permits that are parked on Thursday in spaces/lots reserved for university employees. The athletic department advises scrimmage attendees to park off campus and walk to Folsom. After Thursday's scrimmage, practices will be closed to the public.
BUFF BITS: Patterson's late start is expected to keep him out of Thursday's scrimmage.The same rule that kept the rest of the Buffs out of full pads from Thursday until Monday morning apply to him. It was that rule that also prevented Patterson from practicing twice Tuesday . . . . Monday afternoon's "team unity" function took the Buffs indoors rather than to a water park, as was done in the 2009 camp. They went to the see the movie Inception . . . . One of the receivers Patterson will battle for playing time is sophomore Will Jefferson, a late addition to CU's 2009 camp roster who made a grand entrance and wound up contributing in his first season. Jefferson has been solid thus far in this camp. Said Hawkins: "It's amazing what some experience will do. The poor guy's not only thrown in late, but late as a freshman last year. The nice thing with him is the maturity. He's so hard on himself, when he doesn't play well or drops a ball, it used to take him a while to recover. Now he's doing a great job . . . if he has a tough practice one time, he immediately comes back. Now he's starting to show well, show that maturity." . . . . Update on a Media Day note: In addition to playing with the San Antonio Gunslingers, where former CU coach/current UCLA boss Rick Neuheisel was the quarterback, snapper Joe Silipo's dad played for the Denver Gold. One of his teammates on that team was Andy Poremba, the father of Buffs defensive end Tony Poremba.