ANN ARBOR — One week after scoring the game-winning touchdown against Northwestern, senior running back Karan Higdon delivered another highlight-reel performance.
In Michigan’s 42-21 win Saturday against the Maryland Terrapins, Higdon rushed for 103 yards on 25 attempts, good for an average of 4.1 yards per carry.
In the third quarter, when Higdon notched his 83rd yard of the afternoon, he also became just the 23rd player in program history to reach the 2,000-yard mark in his career.
“It’s amazing,” Higdon said of the accomplishment. “To do it at a traditional school like Michigan is something that is life-fulfilling. I’m excited for it, I’m so thankful and blessed to run behind guys like this, so shoutout to our O-line, the previous O-lines I’ve had since I’ve been here, fullbacks.
“Really just thanks to those guys. I couldn’t do it without them.”
While he didn’t have any touchdowns against the Terps, Higdon still helped Michigan to get into a groove offensively by systematically moving the ball down the field.
According to coach Jim Harbaugh, the work Higdon did during the offseason is what has allowed him to pick up extra yards after contact this year (and in this game in particular), something Harbaugh thinks is a huge X-factor in his overall game.
“He’s just getting the extra yards,” Harbaugh said. “He’s broken some big runs in his career, and he has this year. Just the strength I think he’s developed in this offseason and the determination that he has to help our team, it shows up in those carries where it looks like it’s going to be minus-1 or a no gain, and he turns it into a 4-yard gain, or he turns a 1-yard gain into a 6-yard gain.
“Good backs, if it’s blocked for 0 [yards] they get 2 . If it’s blocked for 2, they get 5. He’s really showing that right now. And his pass protection has improved immensely. So it’s important to him, he’s done a terrific job training, and preparing himself for this season.”
A big part of Higdon’s ability to break free for some big runs this season has been the offensive line’s progression. Harbaugh said they are “all playing their best football,” and have continued to improve.
Higdon seconded Harbaugh’s assessment, saying they have been consistent as of late.
“I think each and every week you see them progress more and more,” Higdon said. “And it’s games like this where it really shows, because when you’re getting 3, 4, 5, 6 yards per carry, some O-lines will break down.
“They brought it each and every play. Shoutout to these guys, they’ve been working hard, busting their tails, and it’s showing each and every Saturday.”
This year, Higdon has delivered knockout punch after knockout punch to opposing defenses. He’s now rushed for 100-plus yards in four consecutive games.
Last week against Northwestern, he rushed for 115 yards on a career-high 30 carries and a season-high two touchdowns, one of which was the game-winner as Michigan overcame a 17-point deficit against the Wildcats.
Through five games this season (he didn’t play against SMU in Week 3 because of an injury), Higdon has rushed for 582 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
In 2017, Higdon was the program’s offensive player of the year, finishing with 994 rushing yards. This past summer, he said had he eclipsed 1,000 yards, he likely would have declared for the NFL draft.
With the way this season is going, Higdon is more than on pace to hit that mark.
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