Maryland sophomore running back Brandon Ross did what many Maryland fans were hoping one of the team’s backs would do this season: establish himself with a breakout game.
The Delaware native did just that as he gashed the Old Dominion defense for 149 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Much like Florida International, Maryland ran a ton of zone read running plays for Ross. Only this time, it was a tad more successful.
In the Terps first two drives, Ross tallied 63 yards on seven rushing attempts and a touchdown.
In the Florida International win, Ross ran mostly to the outside and tried to get around the corner. Whether he took an inside or an outside handoff this past Saturday, the results were quite different. Yes, he still gained a good amount of his yards on the outside, but he also ran between the tackles a lot more than many people may have expected. Obviously, many of the zone read plays were drawn with quarterback C.J. Brown operating out of the shotgun.
For example, on the late second quarter drive that culminated in a 41-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Stefon Diggs, Ross was extremely effective. It was a drive that started from the Terps own three-yard line. Three runs out of five attempts saw Ross dart up the middle, which was very surprising.. Maryland did run a few read option plays on the drive, and Ross was able to get outside and find some prime real estate.
On the following drive, it wasn’t Ross who made the big running play. Fellow sophomore Albert Reid took the inside handoff out of the zone read formation. Reid burst up the middle for a 27-yard touchdown run in which he made a few Monarch defenders look downright silly trying to tackle him.
Ross ended up averaging a whooping 8.2 yards-per-carry and showed impressive vision throughout the entire game. It is only one game but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. We saw flashes in 2012 of what Ross could be as he torched Clemson and North Carolina in Maryland losses.
Establishing a running game is huge for a team like Maryland. The passing attack is obviously one of the most lethal in the entire country. However, there has to be a good amount of balance between run and pass. Getting Ross and Reid on the right track, helps achieve that goal and gives another dimension for opposing defenses to focus on.
Obviously every game isn’t going to be like Old Dominion. However, a successful running game will catch teams off-guard and keep them on their toes.
The potential is definitely there for Ross to rush for 1,000 yards this season with not many of Maryland’s ACC foes having stingy run defenses. Maryland’ next opponent Connecticut surrendered 201 rushing yards to Towson in their season opener and hasn’t played a game since. Ross has the potential to have another phenomenal game and the running game is definitely heading in the right direction going forward.