Instant reactions: Maryland 38, Towson 6

Maryland cruised in its first game back inside SECU Stadium, dominating Towson in a 38-6 win on Saturday afternoon. Breaking down four takeaways from Maryland’s season-opening win:

Maryland’s passing attack does enough to outlast Towson

Saturday gave Maryland’s first-team offense a chance to find its groove, and they did so early. Maryland found the endzone on their first two drives and three of their first four to establish an early convincing lead. The early lead also marked just the second time that quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa has recorded four touchdowns in one half at Maryland, but it was the exact performance that helped the Terps’ offense dominate the Tigers’ defense early.

Heading into halftime, Taulia Tagovailoa recorded his ninth game with 200+ passing yards in one half after posting 226 yards on 19-of-30 passing. Taulia also became the first quarterback to eclipse 8,000 career passing yards in program history.

Taulia nearly had a fourth passing touchdown early in the fourth quarter before Tai Felton watched a deep ball go right through his hands, one of two chances for the Virginia receiver to score on the day. Felton was able to rebound with a pair of catches, becoming one of seven Terps players with at least one catch in the win.

The passing game, of course, took on more pressure with the running game unable to generate much consistency with Hemby and Littleton combining for 85 yards on 19 carries, proving to be the lone two running backs to see the field until Colby McDonald checked in with nine minutes left. Hemby found the endzone on a nine-yard rush for Maryland’s first and only touchdown of the second half, but despite recording 12 passing and rushing first downs each, the lack of push up front left the passing attack to pick up the slack as they averaged eleven yards per completion and 164 total yards after the catch.

Taulia would do exactly that before being replaced by Billy Edwards Jr. with just over one minute left in the third quarter, ending another historic day for Maryland’s fourth-year quarterback. Taulia’s final stat line: 22-of-33 for 260 yards and three touchdowns, along with 28 rushing yards and a touchdown on two carries.

Second-year quarterback Cam Edge checked into the game for the final three minutes.

Monster day from Corey Dyches

You can’t bring up Taulia’s strong showing without mentioning Corey Dyches, who reminded Maryland fans on Saturday just how explosive he could be.

Dyches’ day began with a number change, switching from 84 to 2, and it ended with him recording his second-career 100-yard receiving game as he led the team in receptions (6) and receiving yards (108) in the win. Whether it was over the middle of the field or a screen, the fourth-year tight end proved to be the most dynamic pass-catcher on the field on Saturday even in a room full of strong receivers.

Underclassmen Preston Howard and Rico Walker rounded out the rotation behind Dyches, though Walker nearly recorded his first touchdown before a penalty called the play back.

Dyches was one of three pass-catchers to find the endzone, joining Kaden Prather and Jeshaun Jones, though he’s one of two players to reel in all 100% of their targets. With the second half largely decided for the Terps, Maryland turned to their younger players with freshman Dylan Wade finding the field midway through the third quarter.

Led by Dyches, the performance from the tight ends comes days after Locksley expressed quiet confidence in his revamped unit.

Taulia’s protection remains a work in progress 

In regards to Taulia’s protection, it’s safe to say the Terps’ fourth-year starting quarterback had to adapt to Towson’s pressure. Maryland didn’t necessarily let Taulia go down much, allowing zero sacks and one TFL which game in the first half, but Taulia did find himself frequently using his legs to extend plays as Maryland’s often three-receiver sets worked to find open space downfield.

The trenches remain a work in progress as now, they work to return to full health heading into week two. Much was made of Maryland’s offensive line all offseason with three portal additions, but the first-team unit that led Maryland through the latter half of fall camp is who took the field with (L-R) DJ Glaze, Corey Bullock, Mike Purcell, Amelio Moran and Conor Fagan taking the field for the first serious. After being sidelined since the second scrimmage, newcomer Gottlieb Ayedze was questionable heading into the game before being one of eight players ruled out, vaulting Fagan into the starting lineup.

That didn’t mean fans only saw five linemen, though. Maryland wasn’t shy with their rotations in the trenches, such as Aric Harris stepping in at center for the third and fourth series of the day after Mike Purcell drew the start as expected. Maryland also saw former LSU guard Marcus Dumervil rotate in at right guard, Kyle Long in at left guard, while Corey Bullock even took snaps at center through the second half with Long filling his role at guard.

Kevin Kalonji made his first career appearance in a Maryland uniform at right tackle with roughly ten minutes left in the game.

Maryland finished the day still without letting up a sack, but the chemistry and cohesiveness up front remains a work in progress as the unit will prepare for a Charlotte front seven featuring several Power Five bouncebacks.

Efficient day from the defense

Maryland showed what so many expected when diving into the matchup on paper: the Terps’ defense outmanned the Tigers’ offense on Saturday.

After allowing just over 100 yards of total offense in the first half, the Terps were able to limit Towson’s possessions thanks to forcing Towson to convert just two of their seven third-down attempts while giving up one sack. It’d be one of two sacks on the day for Maryland’s defense who saw several pieces flying around the front seven.

That included Kellan Wyatt, who in addition to lining up as a JACK, found himself with his hands in the dirt as a defensive end. Just like last year, it was Beau Brade who finished with a team-high six tackles as Maryland held Towson to 5-of-14 on third downs.

Maryland recorded a pair of sacks and nearly generated their takeaway of the season with Quashon Fuller generating pressure in the closing minutes of the first half, only for the call to be overturned. Nonetheless, Maryland was able to stifle Towson and held Towson QB Nathan Kent to a completion percentage just above 50%.

With a 35-3 lead midway through the third, Maryland watched a number of freshmen find their footing in their first action with Alex Moore, Perry Fisher, Mike Harris, Dillan Fontus and Lavon Johnson among those rotating. Donnell Brown, an outside ‘backer portal addition this season, checked in for the first time midway through the third quarter where his quickness off the edge was hard to ignore.

Towson would find the endzone with the Terps’ future defensive stars in the game to close out the final minutes, securing a 38-6 win. With the win, Maryland’s defense has not allowed an offensive touchdown for the last three games since 1976.

Notes:

-Gottlieb Ayedze was among eight players ruled out, joining OLB Neeo Avery, TE Leon Husbands, OL Andre Roye, OL Deandre Duffus, RB Ramon Brown, WR Sean Williams and CB Gavin Gibson.

-Josh Richards and Glen Miller were both listed as questionable, though Miller played throughout the game.

-TE Corey Dyches switched from 84 to 2, DL Christian Teague switched from 91 to 92

-SAF Avantae Williams did not play in Saturday’s win.

-Former players Deonte Banks, Rakim Jarrett, Spencer Anderson and Dontay Demus returned to College Park for the Terps’ win.

-Scouts from the Pittsburgh Steelers are New Orleans Saints were in attendance.

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