What’s the best answer to quarterback injuries? Run the ball. That’s what the Terps have been doing all season, and that’s what helped running back Ty Johnson and company taken down Minnesota last weekend after a big loss to UCF. A balanced ground attack kept the Golden Gophers defense in check and off third-string quarterback Max Bortenschlager.
Johnson is lethal when he can rack up big yards by getting to the second level and into the open field. The difference in Minneapolis was the Terps offensive line, which was able to get great pushes and create huge holes for Johnson and fellow back Lorenzo Harrison to work with.
Here in the first quarter, Harrison runs for 13 yards on a sweep to the left side. Right tackle Damian Prince and center Brendan Moore go to swing outside; Prince is able to save the play by picking up the defensive tackle penetrating, and Moore gets outside to lead block for Harrison.
On this play in the second quarter, Ty Johnson is stopped at the line, but is able to break outside for a 21-yard run thanks to tight end Avery Edwards picking up a block and left tackle Derwin Gray being able to force his man inside.
On his game-winning 34-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Johnson would’ve been able to walk through the hole thanks to Prince, Moore and right guard Terrance Davis. They were able to clear out the linebacker and defensive ends, sealing the B gap for Johnson to burst through for the score.
Behind blocks like these, Johnson gouged Minnesota for 130 yards on 18 carries. Alongside Johnson, Harrison added 75 yards of his own. As a whole, the Terps piled up 262 rushing yards on 47 attempts.
Unfortunately for Maryland, this didn’t happen against UFC. Here on first and 10 in the second quarter, Johnson gets stuffed at the line after the line breaks down. Tight end Derrick Hayward comes in motion, but is unable to lead block for Johnson when left guard Sean Christie can’t pick up the defensive tackle, and the defense collapses in.
This is just a glimpse at the offensive struggles against the Knights. A week later against the Gophers, there was a visible difference in the push the Terps offensive line was getting. As seen in the touchdown GIF above, the line was able to push defenders upfield and swing outside to lead block for the ball carrier.
The offensive play overall in Minneapolis was a huge improvement, thanks in large part to the progress the offensive line made. The Terps face a much steeper challenge this weekend in No. 10 Ohio State, which has allowed just 3.3 yards per carry this season, but line play like this could help Johnson and Harrison break free for some longer runs.