Through nine games last year, Maryland football running back Lorenzo Harrison averaged 7.2 yards per carry. His elusiveness put him on pace to break the program’s freshman rushing record, set by LaMont Jordan in 1997.

Harrison was 57 yards short of the rookie mark with four contests remaining, but a suspension stemming from an airsoft gun incident sidelined him for the remainder of the campaign.

[Read more: Maryland football’s Lorenzo Harrison wants to “stay away from foolishness” post-suspension]

He’s yet to replicate his big-play ability this year, failing to average five yards per attempt in any game. However, he showed signs of his old self in Maryland’s 38-10 loss to Central Florida last Saturday, racking up 48 yards on 10 carries.

“He made a lot of things happen,” center Brendan Moore said, “and that’s what we expect of him.”

Harrison maintained his explosiveness in practice even as he struggled to find running lanes in Maryland’s first two games. So before the Central Florida tilt, offensive coordinator Walt Bell smiled and told reporters the tailback was set for an improved showing.

Harrison almost always features in the Terps’ top effort plays during weekly film sessions, so his teammates felt a breakthrough was imminent.

“He’s just a guy who’s been working hard,” wide receiver Jacquille Veii said, “and busting his butt every since he got here.”

Harrison’s commitment paid off against the Knights, as he recorded five runs of at least six yards, including two during a second-quarter drive. He said he didn’t put as much pressure on himself to gain big yardage on every play, instead waiting for holes to open in the defensive line.

After his 2016 suspension, Harrison admits his desire to bounce back with a strong first couple of games affected his in-game performance. Now, he said he’s entering a groove similar to one he experienced during his rookie year.

“As he continues with the patience and not trying to hit every run for a home run,” Bell said, “he’ll just get better and better.”

While Harrison took a step forward in Maryland’s defeat to Central Florida, the running game as a whole faltered, gaining just 42 yards. The effort disappointed a tailback group that averaged 315 yards through its first two games.

Running back Ty Johnson, typically an upbeat figure, appeared frustrated after Central Florida bottled him up for 25 yards. He spoke in a low voice and repeatedly shook his head during postgame interviews.

Bell attributed the letdown to offensive predictability, as a season-ending ACL injury to quarterback Kasim Hill in the first quarter hindered Maryland’s passing.

Central Florida brought extra defenders near the line of scrimmage to halt the run, daring backup quarterback Max Bortenschlager to throw downfield. But the Terps, who worried about putting too much pressure on Bortenschlager’s inexperienced arm, continued handing the ball off, leading to an inefficient ground performance.

Still, Harrison found enough room to gain confidence entering Saturday’s tilt at Minnesota, a team that’s held opponents to 59 rushing yards per game this year.

If Harrison breaks into open space against the Golden Gophers, he has the speed to pull off long touchdown runs. The Terps believe it’s a matter of time before that happens.

“I can’t wait to see where he goes from here,” Moore said. “He’s one of the shiftiest guys and a guy you love blocking for because you never know what he’s going to do. Running down the field, the play is never over when he has the ball.”

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of the story said Lorenzo Harrison was suspended after a BB gun incident. It was an airsoft gun. This story has been updated.