In its season-opening 52-13 win against Howard Saturday afternoon, Maryland football delivered on its promise of a run-heavy offense, and several Terps shined in the backfield.
The team rushed for 315 yards on 44 attempts (while throwing just 29 passes), and those numbers were incredibly well distributed. Six players had at least four carries, but nobody had any more than nine. All six rushers recorded between 40 and 67 yards, and they each scored one touchdown on the ground. Maryland’s offensive line used its superior size to help open some major holes for the Terps’ backs, who ran wild all day and exhausted the Bison defense.
Sophomore Ty Johnson and seniors Trey Edmunds and Kenneth Goins saw the majority of the early action. Johnson and Edmunds finished with identical stats: six carries, 48 yards and a touchdown (they also teamed up on the Terps’ special teams touchdown, with Johnson blocking a punt near the goal line and Edmunds scooping and scoring). Goins scored Maryland’s first touchdown on the opening drive and finished with 40 yards on four attempts. His 36-yard scamper in the second quarter was the team’s longest play from scrimmage in the game.
About halfway through the third quarter, freshman quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome entered the game and stole the show. In addition to a 4-for-6, 60-yard passing performance, Pigrome put up 53 yards on the ground in seven attempts. He had a score of his own, but the highlight of his college debut came at the end of the third: a 25-yard scramble punctuated by a beautiful juke.
Maryland fans, meet freshman QB Tyrrell Pigrome. pic.twitter.com/rSr2slxjs6— Testudo Times (@testudotimes) September 3, 2016
As the game wound down, true freshmen Lorenzo Harrison and Jake Funk took the statistical leads. Harrison had nine carries for 67 yards, while Funk gained 59 on eight attempts. Both scored their first career touchdowns.
Harrison was the team’s leading rusher after not even appearing on the team’s depth chart prior to the game (although Durkin said after the game he would have listed Harrison on it if the media reps let him).
“Lorenzo is a unique ball carrier, because he can make you miss for sure, he can also run you over,” Durkin said. “He’s been great for us. I love his demeanor, his approach. I know he’s a freshman; he doesn’t have that freshman look about him at all.”
This type of balance was very much expected. The outcome of this game was a foregone conclusion, and nobody wants to take more hits than necessary. This concern is amplified in a Maryland offense that operates at such a breakneck pace.
“With Coach Bell and his fast-paced offense, it’s almost impossible to be in there for so many plays at one time,” Edmunds said.
Of course, there is still a finite number of available touches, so these Terps are still competing against one another for playing time. Durkin said that the team will continue to use several running backs throughout the season, but this is still probably the most action all three freshmen see in a single game this fall. The level of competition will increase dramatically, lowering Maryland’s margin for error, and senior Wes Brown will snatch up a good share of touches when he comes back from his three-game suspension. But if Maryland's problem is that it has too many competent rushers, that's a fantastic problem to have.