There’s an old Chinese proverb about a bamboo tree, which University at Albany coach Bob Ford equates to his running game.

The story goes that you must water the bamboo seeds without any results for quite some time and eventually, the tree will explode out of the ground, growing very quickly.

“That’s like a running attack,” Ford said. “Sometimes you just have to keep pounding the ball.”

After two weeks of moderate success in the ground game, the Great Danes sprouted last weekend, against Columbia.

UAlbany picked up its first win of the season, 44-21, and finished with more rushing yards (216) than they had in the first two games combined (172).

“We came out and established the running attack, which was the first time we’ve really done that this year,” Ford said.

The biggest beneficiary was junior Drew Smith, who finished with a career-high 155 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

“It felt great,” Smith said following Thursday’s practice, which was forced inside to SEFCU Arena, due to inclement weather.

Smith also threw a touchdown pass — to junior Ryan Kirchner — and took some snaps out of a wildcat formation.

Smith was a quarterback in high school, at Guilderland High. He was also a quarterback when he first got to UAlbany, but moved to running back following the graduation of La Salle Institute grad David McCarty.

“He does so many things,” Ford said. “Very, very talented athlete.”

Smith was upset after rushing for just 18 yards on five carries the previous week, in a 31-15 loss against Maine.

He came to Offensive Coordinator Ryan McCarthy and voiced his concerns about not touching the ball enough.

The Great Danes are certainly more exciting with Smith taking snaps and are also more dangerous, forcing opponents to gameplan around his skills.

UAlbany plays at St. Francis (Pa.) this Saturday, in their first Northeast Conference game.

In other local college football action this weekend, RPI and Union are both home on Saturday. The Engineers face Rochester, while the Dutchmen take on WPI.

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