Locksley Reviews Convincing Win Over Rutgers, Recruiting Jeshaun Jones for 2023

Maryland ended its three game slide in dominating fashion against Rutgers on Saturday, pitching it’s first shutout since 2008 and fewest yards allowed since joining the Big Ten.

The convincing performance captured pure domination by Maryland football in all three phases of the game, eclipsing 500 total yards of offense while holding Rutgers to less than 130 total yards. Maryland forced three three-and-outs to start the game and ten punts overall, compared to just five first downs with two coming in  the final three minutes.

“Proud of this team, man. Really proud of the way they finished,” head coach Mike Locksley said. “Every part of our program is designed to finish the right way and I thought we did that today playing probably our most complete game that we’ve had all season in all three phrases. Really proud of the leadership shown by the 18 guys that exhausted their eligibility and our team sending these guys out the right way.”

Without star wide receiver Rakim Jarrett, quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa settled in on a new veteran receiver as Jeshaun Jones finished with a career-high nine catches for 152 yards and one touchdown. Although Jones was among the 18 seniors honored during pregame ceremonies, head coach Mike Locksley knows that he has to recruit him back to College Park for a possible six seasons to come to fruition.

“My first recruiting job is to recruit Jeshaun to come back and play. He has another COVID year. I know it’s something he’s entertaining. This guy shows the toughness that you want, the resiliency, all pillars of our program and he’s a guy that leaves it all on the field. I was really happy to see him be able to have the type of game today, coming off of two ACLs. The way he came and entered here with big game against Texas. It was great to see him play the way he played today and hopefully it’s a precursor for what things look like next year for him if he decides to come back.”

The same could be said, for quarterback, Thalia Tagovailoa, but he is also holding off on making that decision final. “Not yet,” Taulia added postgame. “Just focusing on this team.”

Maryland’s defense, meanwhile, stopped the Scarlet Knights from gaining any momentum on offense despite a quarterback change to start the fourth quarter. Rutgers would finish with 120 total yards of offense and had the ball for just shy of 19 minutes in a convincing performance. Three sacks by the Terps’ defense contributed to Rutgers failing to convert all 11 of their 3rd down attempts as the defense has improved under first year defensive coordinator Brian Williams.

“One of the things I really liked was seeing the mental intensity of how we played a week ago against Ohio State then being able to carry it over and have their first shut out since we’ve joined the Big Ten, which is a great feat no matter the opponent.”

While the potential key players returning for 2023 remains unclear, what fans do know is that Maryland football notched several records in the convincing win. Maryland’s four conference wins are the most since joining the conference, tying the feat completed in 2014. While finishing 5-2 at home, Maryland also recorded its seven regular season win of the season since 2014. That seventh win means more than just another piece of evidence that Maryland football is taking the next step. Now, Mike Locksley’s contract triggers a one year extension through the 2027 season.

“Obviously it’s great to be around here. As I told anybody that would listen, I’m here for the long haul. This is where I’ve always wanted to be. Appreciative of my boss, Damon [Evans] and Colleen [Sorem], that they’ve been able to do the things that keep me around. We’ll continue to try and build this thing,” Locksley added. While Maryland didn’t defeat one of the Big Ten powers this season, the eyeball test showed the tangible developments from last season to this.

“I think anybody that’s watched the trajectory of our program sees the improvement. We’re not there yet. As I like to keep saying, we’re a few players away, a couple plays away and it’s my job to go get those players and to create those plays so that we can take another step as we build a championship program.”

With the regular season now complete, Maryland will await its bowl destination on December 4.

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