John­son lat­est RB to run wild

Baltimore Sun - - COLLEGES - By Don Markus don.markus@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/sport­sprof56

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.”

PA­TRICK SEMANSKY/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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