Ty Johnson

RB / MARYLAND

When Maryland pulled off another upset last week at Minnesota, Ty Johnson delivered the decisive blow right to the gut of the Gophers defense.

His offensive line cracked a huge hole in the defense and he sprinted through, not only rushing 34 yards to the winning score but gaining the attention of Ohio State, which plays the Terrapins on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

“He plays hard, man,” OSU defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes said of the 5-foot-10, 208-pound Johnson. “He plays bigger than what he actually is. And he’s going to come to play Saturday. We’ve got to be prepared.”

In the second season under coach DJ Durkin, the Terps like to pass from side to side at times. But they leaned more on their large and increasingly physical offensive line to keep things simple for starting quarterback Max Bortenschlager last week. They often attacked a good Minnesota defense between the tackles with zone plays and the like, similar to what the Buckeyes use.

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Maryland can do it because it has a willing and capable back in Johnson, a junior who rushed for 1,004 yards last season and has shown the ability to bounce a play outside when the middle is clogged. He already has gained 411 yards on 46 carries (8.9-yard average), including 132 in a 51-41 upset win at Texas in the opener.

“When he gets going, he’s got great acceleration,” linebackers coach Bill Davis said. “He’s got good vision and patience.”

Johnson is augmented by the equally speedy sophomore Lorenzo Harrison.

“They have two very good backs,” Davis said. “They’ll hit any hole at any time. So the linebackers have to be very disciplined.”

It will be the same for the defensive line, Holmes said, because Johnson has shown he can hit the home run. He had a 40-yard TD run at Texas, for example.

“It’s going to be a good test for us,” Holmes said. “They have a great offensive line, they’ve got the great running back — he’s a real good back. He’s got a big heart.”

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

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