Taz Batmen took the handoff and started right until several Charlotte players began to crash through Georgia State’s offensive line.
Though playing in his first Division I game, Bateman didn’t panic. He cut left, raced around the end and took off up the field As he got into the linebackers, he saw another seam to his right and cut back toward it. Just as he was about to explode out of that cut and with a clear path to the end zone, Bateman fell down.
He thought he had a touchdown, his first in his first game as a Panther.
“It was disappointing I didn’t score,” he said.
Bateman tripped because he tried to cut using his inside leg (left), rather than planting his outside leg (right), according to offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski. It’s something the coaches have been teaching him.
But the run illustrated why the coaching staff is so high on Bateman. He has an explosiveness that no other back at Georgia State has shown. Krysten Hammon showed glimpses of it in his very short time with the team last season.
It’s a burst that can turn any handoff into a touchdown. It’s a burst that Bateman showed most days at practice in August.
“They say my mom was fast but I don’t know, I never saw her in action,” he said. He guesses that he gets his speed from an uncle, Tim Brown, who played running back for the Eagles and who also wore No. 22.
Bateman is short (5-8), so he can hide behind his blocker until he sees a hole. By the time he is through, he is at full speed looking for space to exploit.
He spun one 49ers defender into the ground during a 24-yard carry in last week’s loss as he rushed eight times for 61 yards.
“If you can’t see me, you can’t tackle me,” he said.
Jagodzinski likes Bateman’s versatility. Not only can he line up at running back, but he can be moved into the slot or outside as a receiver. He was utilized there against Charlotte and caught three passes for 37 yards that included a 24-yard touchdown.
“My expectation is to win,” Bateman said.