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Maryland running backs quietly had a very good season in 2015

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Brandon Ross led what was actually quite a productive unit.

Brandon Ross ended his Maryland career on a high note, rushing for a combined 418 yards and 6 touchdowns in the team's final two games.
Brandon Ross ended his Maryland career on a high note, rushing for a combined 418 yards and 6 touchdowns in the team's final two games.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the third edition of our Maryland football season in review, where we are evaluate each unit's performance in 2015. While the Terps' passing game was downright unwatchable this season, the Terps' rushing attack had an under-the-radar amazing year.

The players:

Brandon Ross, senior, No. 45.

Wes Brown, junior, No. 4.

Ty Johnson, freshman, No, 6.

Kenneth Goins Jr, junior, No. 30.

The numbers

Player Pos. Ht, Wt Year Rushes Yards TD Yards/Carry Hlt Yds/Opp. Opp. Rate Fumbles (Lost)
Brandon Ross RB 5'10, 210 SR 152 956 10 6.3 9.5 35.5% 4 (3)
Perry Hills QB 6'2, 210 JR 92 639 3 6.9 7.2 47.8 5 (2)
Wes Brown RB 6'0, 210 JR 71 317 3 4.5 3.4 38.0% 1 (1)
Ty Johnson RB 5'10, 184 FR 35 250 3 7.1 9.0 40.0 0 (0)
Kenneth Goins Jr. FB 5'9, 233 JR 9 60 1 6.7 18.1 22.2 0 (0)


Offense Defense
Avg. Rk Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing S&P+ 119.6 12 111.8 34 100.0
Rushing Success Rate 40.7% 84 42.5% 72 42.3%
Rushing IsoPPP 1.37 2 0.95 21 1.08
Adj. Line Yards 111.2 21 109.2 34 100.0
Opportunity Rate 40.2% 50 38.4% 68 39.1%
Power Success Rate 51.7% 124 61.0% 38 66.4%
Stuff Rate 21.1% 86 20.2% 62 19.5%

All stats via SB Nation's Bill Connelly.

The basics

Maryland's running backs had easily the most productive season out of any skill position on the team. The Terps ended the season ranking 12th in rushing S&P+, finishing only four spots behind Big Ten foe Ohio State. However, that stat doesn't completely reflect the running backs' performance, as quarterback Perry Hills ended the season as the team's second-leading rusher.

Brandon Ross was the Terps' standout running back, accounting for 38 percent of the team's yardage on the ground and starting 11 out of the team's 12 games. Ross wasn't a complete back early in the year, as coaches noted he was not doing a good job of pass-blocking.

He and Wes Brown split carries for much of the season, but Ross absolutely torched Indiana and Rutgers after Brown was suspended indefinitely. Ross averaged 9.4 highlight yards per opportunity, which measures the yards that the running back himself is solely responsible for. That was highest on the team, as Johnson had 9.0 and Brown only had 3.4. In addition to his lack of explosiveness, Brown didn't have any games where he stood out, as his 74-yard performance against Richmond was his highest total of the year.

Maryland's running backs also had the second-most explosive running game in the country, according to S&P+. That makes sense, because the Terps didn't spend a whole lot of time on their opponents' side of the 50. In the last 2 games of the season, Heck, even fullback Kenneth Goins Jr., who mainly serves as a blocker, ripped off a 40-yard touchdown run against Rutgers.

The future

Ross, who ended his four-year career at Maryland ninth on the school's all-time rushing yards list, leaves a question mark in his absence. He wasn't always as explosive as he was toward the end of his senior season, but he was a reliable running back whom the Terps will miss next year. It's unclear how long Brown's suspension will last, so we could be looking at an incredibly youthful backfield for Maryland next season. Three-star running backs Jake Funk and Lorenzo Harrison could contribute as freshmen, but it's very unlikely they would be able to carry the load for the offense.

Whoever is in the backfield, they'll benefit from a solid offensive line next season. If there's one thing Randy Edsall understood, it's that the Big Ten is a "lineman league." In 2015, the Terps ranked 21st in adjusted line yards, which measures how much yardage the line accounts for. With Damian Prince, Derwin Gray and Quarvez Boulware manning the line in the future, Maryland's running backs should have some openings.