TOWSON, Md. — It's an outstanding stat line for Quincy Patterson II: 22 of 32 for 382 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Heck of a game for North Dakota State's starting quarterback.
Except that those numbers aren't for a game. They are for the season. Three games. Six halves. Twelve quarters.
How muted are those statistics in the pass-happy world of college football, particularly the Football Championship Subdivision where gunslingers roam the fields and put up Madden 22 numbers on a weekly basis against defenses that aren't always the most disciplined? Consider that Eastern Washington's Eric Barriere had 487 yards passing in the first half against Western Illinois in a 62-56 victory Saturday.
TOUCHDOWN, Bison! Quincy Patterson hits Christian Watson in stride for a 67-yard score.— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) September 18, 2021
NDSU 6, Towson 0. pic.twitter.com/Fs322XVXTg
Barriere finished with 542 yards and the possibility of an NIL deal with Icy Hot, needed balm to sooth his busy right shoulder.
Patterson might be in line for an endorsement from Aveeno, lotion good for preventing callouses caused by handing off the ball again and again and again. And again.
The quarterback who transferred from Football Bowl Subdivision Virginia Tech to be the starter at an FCS powerhouse known for getting its QBs drafted by the National Football League is thus far doing a heck of a job giving the the ball to his running backs.
In three games, the Bison have attempted 132 running plays. They've thrown 37 passes, including some by backup Cam Miller late in games.
TOUCHDOWN, Bison!— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) September 18, 2021
After this 31-yard completion to Kobe Johnson, Quincy Patterson runs it in from the 3 and the Bison lead Towson 19-0 with 9:07 to play in the second quarter. pic.twitter.com/Eq5e8DWdmM
"I was talking to my parents and they were like, 'Do you want to throw the ball more?' And I said, 'Sure, but we're winning games,'" Patterson said Saturday night after NDSU finished a 35-7 thumping of Towson at Johnny Unitas Stadium. "It's cool to see that we don't have to (throw) even though I am the starter. I can literally just hand the ball off and we're winning games."
This is, of course, how the run-based Bison prefer things and, perhaps, how offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl and quarterbacks coach Randy Hedberg envisioned breaking Patterson into NDSU's scheme during the nonconference portion of the schedule. An easy throw here, a safe throw there. Build some confidence and, as the season progressed, keep adding wrinkles and up the degree of difficulty.
It's helped that NDSU physically overwhelmed its first three opponents, all of whom ran generally basic defenses. The Bison haven't faced urgency offensively, nor have they seen the more complex defenses they'll see in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, where teams are well-schooled in NDSU's tendencies. The difficulty will be bumped up in NDSU's next game, Oct. 2 at North Dakota. The Fighting Hawks bring pressure and blitzes from all over the place.
Will it matter? Not if the Bison can run the ball like they have through the first three games. NDSU is averaging an FCS-best 348.3 rushing yards per game, including 328 against a Towson defense that was allowing 107 yards on the ground before the Bison's offensive line obliterated the Tigers' front seven.
Patterson hasn't been required to throw much because the Bison have so thoroughly subjugated their opponents. He's done what's been asked of him, including running the ball himself when needed.
"Quincy is just versatile. He can do anything. I think he fits in our offense perfectly," said Bison receiver Christian Watson, who was the recipient of a perfectly thrown 67-yard touchdown pass from Patterson on Saturday. "They have to respect his run game. He's a 240-, 250-pound QB who can run that thing right down their throat. He has a huge arm, too. He opens up the playbook a lot for us, being able to do so many things."
The bomb to Watson on NDSU's first possession was just one of several good throws Patterson made with his limited opportunities. He showed wonderful touch on a 31-yard toss down the middle to Kobe Johnson and impressive arm strength on a 12-yard out for a first down to Braylon Henderson.
Patterson throws a good ball and, with an array of players who can run and catch it, he exhibited regret Saturday night that he can't get it to everybody.
"I just kind of wish I could throw them all the ball, but I just try to keep them up knowing that they'll all get their shot and when they do get their shot they have to capitalize on it," Patterson said.
The Bison try to spread the wealth by throwing to running backs, tight ends, receivers and fullbacks. TIght end Josh Babicz and fullback Hunter Luepke were both targets of deep downfield throws against Towson.
There were a couple of miscues against Towson. Patterson threw his first interception of the season on an ill-advised toss into the end zone on a jump pass. NDSU could've simply powered the ball into the end zone, given its offensive line's dominance, but instead chose to get cute. It was costly when Patterson lobbed a soft pass directly to safety SJ Brown II for an easy pick.
"Back-side safety. I'm not sure exactly what happened. I just think I didn't see him," Patterson said. "We drew up that play at the beginning of the week and as soon as he called that play, I'm like 'All right!' And then that happened."
Patterson, too, took two sacks after it appeared he held the ball too long in the pocket. It was a tendency he showed in the season opener against Albany, causing head coach Matt Entz to suggest Patterson got "locked in" too much on downfield receivers and had to make quicker decisions to scramble or throw away the ball.
That's the nitpicking. The bottom line through three games is NDSU averaging 42 points and 487.7 yards per game — using a sliver of the playbook and an extremely limited passing game.
"It's nice to know we don't have to throw the ball 100 times a game to win. We can just run the ball and score 64 points or 35 points," Patterson said.
One hundred passes? In one game? Not a chance. At this rate, Patterson won't attempt 100 passes until midway through the Bison's ninth game.