Inside the matchup: Johnson vs Gators D

September, 4, 2013
9/04/13
10:45
AM ET

Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesThe object on Saturday will be to get Duke Johnson into space in which he can use his big-play ability.
Miami is slated to take on its in-state rival Florida this Saturday (12 ET on ESPN), and one area to watch will be the running game.

The Gators have given up just two rushes of at least 50 yards in the last 10 seasons, three fewer than any other team in FBS. The last time Florida allowed a 50-yard run was against Furman in 2011.

Last season, the Gators ranked fourth in the FBS in rushing yards per game allowed (95). In the season opener against Toledo on Saturday, they allowed 50 rush yards.

As a true freshman last year, Miami's Duke Johnson averaged 6.8 yards per carry, which ranked ninth in FBS among qualified running backs.

He had nine rushes of at least 20 yards, including five that went for at least 50 yards. Among all returning FBS players, no one had more rushes of 50 yards or longer last season.

What’s staggering about his big plays was that these rushes were not simple runs through a gaping hole. In Johnson’s five rushes of 50-plus yards he gained 292 total yards, 118 after contact.

Johnson also had 27 kickoff returns that averaged 33 yards per return, second highest in FBS behind UCF’s Quincy McDuffie (34 yards per kickoff return).

Johnson continued his torrid pace last Saturday against Florida Atlantic, rushing for an FBS-high 186 yards on 19 carries. In that game, Johnson had rushes of 43 and 53 yards, the latter of which went for a touchdown. He also added a 38-yard reception on a dump-off pass from Stephen Morris.

Johnson needs 117 rush yards this week to match Lamar Miller in 2011 for the most by a Miami player in the first two games of a season since 2000.

But the Florida defense has allowed only one 100-yard rusher in its last 16 games (Todd Gurley of Georgia last October).

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