Johnson latest RB to run wild
COLLEGE PARK — On a day when Ty Johnson carried seven times for a career-high 204 yards, he credited the Terps’ offensive linemen, tight ends, wide receivers and running backs coach Anthony Tucker.
The 5-foot-10, 205-pound sophomore left out someone: himself.
“I don’t know how many times Ty thanked us after the game for the way we blocked, and thanked the receivers,” senior right guard Mike Minter said Tuesday.
Helped by runs of 48, 56 and 77 yards — with the 48-yarder going for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter of Maryland’s 50-7 win over Purdue — Johnson took over the season lead in yards gained (335) over freshman standout Lorenzo Harrison.
What Johnson didn’t do is climb the depth chart, which this week lists six players capable of starting at running back for Maryland (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) on Saturday at Penn State (3-2).
Along with Johnson and Harrison, seniors Wes Brown, Trey Edmunds, Kenneth Goins Jr. (Gilman) and freshman Jake Funk are also listed. Johnson said there is no jealousy among them.
“They always make jokes at me, they just say, ‘Keep doing your thing’ and that’s what I’m going to do,” Johnson said Saturday. “I love this team, I love our coach and I’m going to keep contributing every week.”
After gaining 400 yards on the ground against the Boilermakers, Maryland is ranked second in the Big Ten and seventh among Football Bowl Subdivision teams with an average of 300 rushing yards a game. That’s up 100 yards over last season, when the Terps were third in the Big Ten and 31st nationally.
Apart from the light competition, much of that success has to do with the addition of Harrison and a more consistent role for Johnson. After carrying 10 times for 83 yards in last season’s opener, Johnson was used sporadically by both Randy Edsall and Mike Locksley.
Even when he rushed for 87 yards Terps running back Ty Johnson outruns Purdue safety Brandon Roberts for a touchdown in the first half Saturday. Johnson finished with 204 yards. and two touchdowns in last season’s finale — a 46-41 shootout win over Rutgers — Johnson carried the ball only twice, a 43-yarder in the first half and a 44-yarder in the second.
Johnson’s performance was overshadowed that afternoon by senior Brandon Ross, who rushed for 250 yards, including a game-winning 80 yards with 11 seconds left.
Whatever Johnson did last season was enough for first-year Maryland coach DJ Durkin to notice.
“The biggest thing is his top-end speed,” Durkin said Tuesday. “That shows up on tape. That shows up pretty quickly when you watch a guy, and as you get to know him better, he’s a really hard worker — doesn’t say much. He’s about his business all the time.”
It didn’t surprise Durkin to see Johnson’s dominating performance, which earned him selection as the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Week.
“You know if Ty can make a guy miss or break a tackle, he’s got the capability of going the distance or going a long way,” Durkin said. “He has that type of speed.”
As Ross did to Johnson last season against Rutgers, Johnson overshadowed Harrison with his performance Saturday.
In becoming the first Maryland freshman to score touchdowns in his Saturday, noon TV: Big Ten Network Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM Line: Maryland by 11⁄ first four games, Harrison rushed for a 62-yard touchdown and finished with 78 yards on six carries. He also had a 40-yarder for a touchdown against Florida International.
“It’s great when you see another guy make a play; you say, ‘I’ve got to get one of those,’ ” Johnson said. “Just being able to have another guy come in with no drop-off is a good feeling.”
Johnson said after he scored his first touchdown of the game on an 8-yard run in the first quarter Saturday, Tucker reminded him how far he had come since the spring.
“Coach Tuck said, ‘Hey, in the spring, you probably wouldn’t have scored on that. You would have ran up somebody’s back. Your patience has really come far,’ ” Johnson recalled. “I was like, ‘I saw it Coach; I had it.’
“Coach Tuck has been really patient teaching me how to be patient with my feet and accelerate when I need to, when I see the hole.”
On Saturday, it mostly came down to what the offensive line was doing in front of him and the other running backs, as well as what the tight ends and receivers were doing as the running backs rounded the corner.
“When everyone does their part, you have your own 20 square feet and it affects everyone else when you do your job,” Johnson said. “The O-line schemed up to block every possible play we had.”