Maryland football battling through camp as Felton, Littleton talk Josh Gattis’s impact on offense

Maryland football is at the halfway point in fall camp with the second scrimmage set for this upcoming Saturday as head coach Mike Locksley and his staff tweak both sides of the ball and iron out the depth chart.

While third-year running back Antwain Littleton noted “this is one of those weeks where we’re dealing with the mental part” of camp, there’s one aspect that’s kept him encouraged.

“The team camaraderie. I feel like this year we’re more together than we’ve ever been,” Littleton. “Coach Locks, he’s always talking about the togetherness as far as even the guys that don’t usually talk to other certain guys on the team, like, we all find ways to click. We all find ways to make sure that we’re involved with each other.”

That’s helped the offense through a transition under first-year offensive coordinator as the adjustments to the offense have been evident yet “simple” if you ask Littleton.

“He’s a simple guy. He can do a lot of things in different formations but will keep it simple with you and we’ll stick to our game plan. If there’s ever a time where it’s a little adversity thrown at us, we won’t fold.” Littleton added.

While Gattis, grad assistant Kyle Edwards and player-turned-coach Eric Najarian are working with a quarterback room once again led by Taulia Tagovailoa, Gattis’s also adds to the decades of experience that Gunter Brewer offers the wide receiver room. Junior wideout Tai Felton has noted that in the offense’s imprint.

“He’s a very high-energy guy. I mean, he’s an old receiver coach. He played receiver in high school. He played receiver in college. He played receiver in the league. So anytime you have somebody with that experience, he’s able to help you, able to elevate your game. He’s played at that level. And he was also at Alabama with coach Locks. Anybody that’s been at that system, and they know national championships, the type of guys they have, so he’s been able to help us and just elevate our game.”

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That’s added confidence to a rebuilt wide receiver room, led by Jeshaun Jones.

“When I first came in, he kind of gave me a blueprint of how things go and stuff like that,” Felton added. “And the fact that he’s still here when I’m here, so he helped me elevate my game. He teaches me a lot and that’s my guy for sure.”

While Maryland has three veterans to lean on atop the wide receiver room, Tai Felton has shown flashes as a big play receiver through his first two seasons and after watching a trio of teammates depart for the NFL, his experience is boosting him into year three.

“My mental game has definitely been strong. My experience has definitely caught up with me and stuff like that. So just being able to play the games I did last year and then being under like Rak [Jarrett], [Dontay] Demus and [Jacob Copeland], under all those guys. So that really helped me and they taught me a lot. So just being able to learn from those guys and just keep moving and keep elevating.”

Head coach Mike Locksley admitted the defense is “a little further ahead” than the offense in terms of execution following the first scrimmage with the defensive line finding its groove. “The two units [are] shaping up very impressive to me. I feel like every day, iron sharpens iron, and I feel like both units come out and be better every day,” defensive end Quashon Fuller said.

One player not getting talked about enough, according to Fuller? Fa’Najae Gotay, who also returned for his sixth season with the program to give the inside linebacker room a veteran.

“I feel like he’s gonna be a guy that is gonna really step up for us, and he isn’t really talked about much right now,” Fuller added.

As for Fuller, a former four-star who new enters his second season with the program, he recognizes the role ahead of him and feels the difference from this point last year to now.

“My growth would be recognizing backfields and being more kind of just saying, being more comfortable with the playbook. I feel like this is, you know, going into my second season with this playbook so very comfortable this year.” While Fuller enters his second season, it’s also the second season under defensive coordinator Brian Williams as the familiarity with the scheme

The defense will look to stifle the offense on Saturday as they inch closer to the season opener.

“I feel like right now we’re starting to like to form some sort of bond for each other and things like that. I feel like everything’s coming together really well,” Fuller added. “Time is ticking. So, I can’t wait for us to all bring it together and be able to show it on Saturdays.”

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