After a promising performance against No. 2 Ohio State, Maryland football looks to continue its upward trajectory this weekend as it hosts Rutgers for Senior Day.
The Terps fell to the Buckeyes, 43-30, but were within one score with under a minute left. The strong effort at home came two months after the Terps played then-No. 4 Michigan tight on the road in a 7-point loss. Maryland then slumped, losing a close one against Purdue and falling to Wisconsin and Penn State in demoralizing fashion on the road in back-to-back weeks.
“When you look at our season in a nutshell, we’ve played two of the top teams in the country really strongly and it shows me that the progress is there,” head coach Mike Locksley said. “What’s missing is the consistency, and that’s on me as a leader to get our players to understand that the standard is the standard and that everyone we play should be a faceless, nameless opponent and get us to where we can play consistently.”
With just one game left in the regular season and a bowl game, building consistency is about instilling the mentality in players for the future more so than a change this season. Regardless of struggles, Locksley sees the program trending up and Saturday is a chance to honor those who have helped make the foundational change.
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“Obviously Saturday is senior day as I said earlier, you know, 18 guys that have laid a foundation for our program,” Locksley said. “This is a special group to me, some have been here for a year, others have been here from the time I got here and there are a few that were here prior to me coming here. But each one of them has made an impact on our program that I think will be beneficial for us as we move forward, with the best obviously being ahead for our program. And these guys played a major role in jumpstarting the turnaround as well as laying the culture, the foundation of the type of culture we need to have to be successful here at the University of Maryland.”
Maryland, which opened as a 13.5-point favorite this week, will host Rutgers Saturday at SECU Stadium at noon with the game broadcast on Big Ten Network.
Notes and Quotes
Taulia injury update… Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa injured his knee on what was the final offensive play for the Terps Saturday, banging his knee hard against the turf while trying to avoid a sack. The quarterback said after the game it was hopefully just a bad bruise, and that appears to be the case.
“His knee is good, was able to practice yesterday,” Locksley said. “Again, he’s a tough kid. He’s taken some shots here the last couple of weeks, but he’s healthy [and] he’ll be available to play.”
A first ‘normal’ college season… For many on this Maryland roster the 2022 campaign has been one of the first ‘normal’ seasons of college football. With the COVID-19 pandemic tightening down the 2020 season and last season having extra protocols, this fall is the first time some upperclassmen and younger players have felt a true college football experience.
“It’s actually been pretty fun,” junior cornerback Tarheeb Still said. “Going to different stadiums for the different atmospheres around the country, playing different teams, different environments. It ‘s actually really fun going out there with my guys on Saturday, very grateful for it. [It’s] something I really look forward to.”
Shawne Merriman returns… Saturday will mark the 20th annual “Lights On” Foundation Coat Drive, which has been run by Merriman since he was a student-athlete in College Park and works to benefit the homeless and military veterans. Fans will be able to donate new or gently used coats, hats, scarves and other cold-weather gear at gates around the stadium, including collection bins at Gates I, F and C.
“Reaching 20 years of collecting coats for the less fortunate is a huge accomplishment and I couldn’t be happier to continue to work with The University of Maryland as we make a collective impact in the Maryland area,” Merriman said in a statement. “The coat drive has always been special to me because I know how it feels to not have a coat during Maryland’s brutally cold weather. To commemorate 20 years of providing warmth to our community, I want to set the bar high and bring in a record number of donations.”