Johnson Piecing Together Puzzle With Carries

Michigan redshirt sophomore running back Drake Johnson has shown flashes of playmaking ability for the Wolverines this season. Appearing to gain momentum as he’s featured in games, Johnson believes that’s how a tailback can flourish.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Drake Johnson did it again.

Afforded the opportunity to be featured at running back for Michigan, Johnson stepped up with a promising 14 carry, 94-yard rushing performance despite the Wolverines’ loss to Maryland at home last Saturday.

With 1:50 remaining in the first half against the Terrapins and the Wolverines looking to add points, Johnson started the series with five straight carries, all of which gained at least five-yards, a long of 17.

The drive ultimately resulted in a 26-yard field goal by Matt Wile, tying the game at nine heading into the break.

“As a running back when you get multiple carries in a row, you start to see things,” Johnson said. “I remember at the end of the first half this last game, we kept running the ball and running the ball and it was like the first time I was like, ok if I get it again I saw how he moved and I know if he does this again I’ll just be able to come off this way.

“Then we did it again and I was like ok; you learn something every play and when you do them consecutively.

For a Michigan team that has struggled to find a consistent rushing attack since quarterback Denard Robinson graduated to the NFL, the Wolverines have been in search of a workhorse back.

Johnson was provided this opportunity just one other time this season, entering a win over Indiana in the first half following an injury to De’Veon Smith.

Johnson went on to rush 16 times for 122-yards and two touchdowns. Idolizing former Michigan tailback Mike Hart who routinely carried the football 20, sometimes 30 times a game, Johnson believes it’s easier to find a rhythm that way.

“It’s almost like putting a puzzle together, that’s kind of how I see running back,” Johnson said.

“It’s kind of hard if you have this giant puzzle and you’re just picking up pieces randomly, that’s kind of what I feel like taking drives off does, it makes you not have any puzzle together but when you get consecutive drives together you already have part of the puzzle down every time you go into the ball game again.”

Boasting a 6.4 yards per carry average on 45 attempts this season, good for best on the team with a minimum of 45 rushes, Johnson now heads into Michigan’ season finale at Ohio State Saturday.

A redshirt sophomore, this will be Johnson’s first opportunity to enter a game against the Buckeyes, something he’s nervous for, but in a good way.

“My dad always told me having butterflies is good cause that means that you care about it,” Johnson said. “If I go into a game and I’m like dead about it or have no nerves about it that means I have no investment.

“I think the more antsy I feel that typically I’ve never had an experience where I felt antsy and not done well. I think really for me if I feel antsy that means we’re going to do well today cause it means I’ve put the time in, I’ve put the effort in and I really care about this so I’m going to try extra hard about it.”

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