Maryland Football Notebook: Update on Injuries, Confidence Building, Spartans Challenge

Maryland football returns home this weekend to face Michigan State as they look to get to .500 in Big Ten play. The Terps, sporting the fan favorite Terp Script uniforms this weekend, will look to win its first game in five years against the Spartans as Michigan State holds a 10-2 lead in the series.

Taulia, Rakim day-to-day

Locksley revealed that both quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and wide receiver Rakim Jarrett are day-to-day after departing in the second half of the Michigan game. “I’m gonna stay right in line with every other coach in the Big Ten who doesn’t disclose their injuries and just, we’ll see what happens on game day, but I think they both are progressing nicely, but we’ll have to make that decision as we move closer to the end of the week and see how they’ve prepared.”

Taulia exited Saturday’s game battling hip and knee injuries after finishing 20-of-30 for 207 yards and one touchdown. Taulia was seen grimacing in pain on the sidelines which led to Billy Edwards Jr. closing out the game, but on Tuesday, Taulia offered a more optimistic answer.

“I feel 100%,” Taulia said in response to his first question on Tuesday. He added that he wanted to return to the game for the final drive but “[Locksley] didn’t want to risk anything. As a player in situations like that, you always want to play but if you can’t be at your best, you want to do what’s best for the team so that’s when Billy [Edwards Jr.] came in and Billy did his thing.” 

Jarrett, meanwhile, was the first player to go down after taking a hard fall with four minutes left in the third quarter. The junior wideout reeled in four catches in the loss and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. Jarrett currently leads Maryland with 208 receiving yards and 15 catches while adding one touchdown, a 48-yard touchdown in week three’s win over SMU.

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Spartans Present Challenge

Michigan State is looking to avoid its third consecutive loss this weekend and Maryland head coach Mike Locksley sees challenges when scouting the Spartans. Locksley hasn’t been shy about his longtime friendship with Spartans head coach Mel Tucker through the year and was once again complementary of his Big Ten opponent. Still, returning and new injuries leave much up for debate as to who will be available this weekend.

“I know he’s facing quite a bit of injuries which has made it a challenge for us as we prepare because I know that he’s lost close to four to seven starters possibly on defense. I know they’ve dealt with injuries on the offensive side of the ball,” Locksley added. Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed returned to action against Minnesota over the weekend, but were without defensive tackle Jacob Slade and defensive end Jeff Pietrowski in last week’s loss. Safety Xavier Henderson, meanwhile, has been sidelined since week one. “It’s easy to say, hey, you know, they’re struggling.”

Locksley, however, pointed back to Michigan State’s “great pass rusher” as outside linebacker Jacoby Windmon leads the Big Ten in both sacks and tackles for loss. Locksley also noted the return of Reed and wide receiver Keon Coleman with quarterback Peyton Thorne leading the offense, “who had a big year for them a year ago.”

“I think their [defensive coordinator] puts them in a lot of good positions, one-on-one matchups,” Taulia added. “They do some stunts in the front. They’re great players, they have some transfers that are doing good things for them so I think that’s one of their strengths. Like you said, they’re tied for number one in sacks and stuff like that. I think it’s the same thing every week with me, just using my feet when I need to and relocating in the pocket, things like that.”

No Moral Victories, but Confidence Building

The disappointment from Saturday’s loss was evident when Locksley and the players took the podium, but there was a deeper sense of added confidence for Maryland football after taking a step forward against a Big Ten power while on the road.

“Our team has shown great maturity and I think because of the type of investment that they’ve made, that’s where the disappointment comes from,” Locksley added. “And I like the way that we’re responding to that, the loss, but, you know, to use that as a litmus test to say, ‘hey, we’re there,’ no, we still got a lot of work to do. We’re still in the developmental stage of our program. We’re still chasing playing a perfect game and being able to execute at a high level to find a way to win games like that.”

“I think as a team, we always have confidence in ourselves just because of the hard work we put in through the offseason and stuff like that,” Taulia added. “We don’t look at the opponent as like the name. We know as a team there’s some things we do that’ll help us become successful on the offense and defense like doing our job. During that game, myself included, we were in the right positions, we didn’t do our assignments.”

VanDarius Cowan generated the lone turnover on the day and added there was an emphasis for the Terps’ defense to leave its mark. “We just went out, tried to play some sound fundamental football, pay attention to our keys, play discipline, you know, we’re working on that still and really just we wanted to show that, you know, we’re a defensive school too. I know our offense is great. We have great receivers, great running backs, great quarterback, but we are a defensive place too, you know.”

Return of Terps Script

In the first game inside SECU Stadium, Maryland will return to its fan-favorite uniforms with the Terps Script under the lights. There’s no secret that a sizeable portion of the fanbase hopes to one day make the classic uniforms the permanent uniforms for Maryland football, but head coach Mike Locksley continues to be a proponent for them. “Been on the record, will continue to be on the record. It’s my favorite uniform. We all have bosses, we all have branding and jobs to do so, you know, the fact that we get the wear the Script Terp is something that I appreciate that we’re able to do a couple times a year.”

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