“The running backs as a unit are expected to produce regardless of circumstances,” Johnson said when asked about replacing the injured Smith. “As unfortunate that De’Veon was unable to be here, I’m sure De’veon would want us to do well.”
However, Michigan’s offense struggled in the first half and didn’t score their first touchdown till Johnson scored on a 31 yard screen pass \to put the Wolverines up 12-0. According to Johnson that sparked the offense moving forward.
“I think during our first half the game our game plan was really solid,” he said. “We were trying out a lot different things and see if it worked. Sometimes when you go through a game plan you have to go through it step by step till finally what works. During the second half of the game we finally got the game plan we put in and it started clicking. We got to that point and started rolling them.”
Rolling indeed, Johnson finished with 13 carries 68 yards and a one-yard TD plunge late in the fourth quarter.
“I think collectively as an offense we started playing harder,” Johnson said. “We started opening up the zone running. And seem to kind of hit them well. The offensive lineman started playing well. … The second half we started getting yards and O-line started making good blocks. Nothing really starts unless they get going.”
Johnson, who recently came back form his second torn ACL, says he’s getting better everyday and is close to 100 percent healthy, if he isn’t already, he says.
“The surgeon and the trainers have done a great job with me,” Johnson said. “Everyday is going to be a little more comfortable than the day before. I think going towards the rest of the season it’s going to get a lot better.
Michigan (4-1, Big Ten 1-0) plays host to No. 16 Northwestern (5-0) next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.