Maryland football ready for regional rivalry vs. Virginia in Friday Night Lights

The next game for Maryland football against Virginia on Friday will mark the first game since 2013, where a go-ahead touchdown from Caleb Rowe to Dave Stinebaugh sealed a 27-26 win in College Park. Conference realignment put a hold on the regional rivalry for a decade, but with Maryland facing a former rival in West Virginia two seasons ago, head coach Mike Locksley admitted that Virginia fits “in great alignment with how I like to see our schedule.”

“Obviously being in the Big Ten is a tough enough conference, but we do have some historical rivals that are always great for our fans to have the opportunity to compete against and Virginia is one of them and I know our fans are pretty passionate about that rivalry,” Locksley added.

Despite leading the all-time series, 44-32-2, that doesn’t mean the longstanding history between the two programs has made an impact on the DMV-heavy Terrapin roster in preparation during the short week.

“I didn’t really watch too many of them but I know they add some ACC rivalries for sure,” wide receiver Kaden Prather said.

“Growing up I didn’t really pay attention to college football like that but I did from my understanding [know] that they did have a big rivalry,” linebacker Caleb Wheatland added. “Coming from Virginia, it’s kind of cool to play my school from back at home, kind of a school I saw a lot growing up. It’s a lot of fun to see how everything unfolds.”

“This generation is not growing up on rivalries because of the realignment and it’s just where we are today in the landscape of college football,” Locksley added. “But we’ll try to do our part to make sure our players understand that number one it is the next opponent, but this one is something pretty special to a lot of people.”

While fans look ahead to better success on Friday Night Lights, heading to College Park in search of their first win, the Terps know they’ll face Virginia’s best on Friday night.

“They’re gonna come in hot. They’ve got a lot to play for, so we know they’re gonna come in and give it their all so we have to have a good week of practice,” Prather added.

The Cavaliers also enter the weekend with uncertainty at quarterback, with former Monmouth veteran Tony Muskett looking to return from a shoulder injury that vaulted Anthony Colandrea into his first start against James Madison. The true freshman fared better against the Dukes than the Vols, posting nearly 400 passing yards in the last-minute loss, as Colandrea drew comparison to Maryland’s current quarterback.

“He’s a little bit like a young Lia. He’s one of those guys that extends plays. He continues, he doesn’t give up on plays, you saw him make some big plays for them,” Locksley said on Tuesday. “Obviously a week ago, as a true freshman to see what he was able to do, was pretty impressive.”

But as Virginia head coach Tony Elliott said following Saturday’s loss, whether Muskett is available on Friday against Maryland remains to be seen. Elliott called Muskett an emergency option on Saturday, and with his status uncertain in the midst of a shortened week, Maryland is preparing for both signal callers to see the field.

“[Tony Muskett] may be back so we’re kind of preparing for both of those guys but I was really impressed with the true freshman out of Florida with how he was able to come in and kind of provide a spark for them.”

While the two regional schools will have plenty of roster familiarity to lean on, second-year linebacker Caleb Wheatland has an idea of what to expect if Muskett does take the field on Friday.

“Tony Muskett, actually played him in high school so like I kind of know a lot. He’s very accurate, he has a strong arm. Like we’re just gonna be able just to pay attention to what he does, like how his body language is,” Wheatland said.

But if Colandrea ends up taking the field, Maryland isn’t overlooking what could be his second career start. “Everybody is a threat when we step on the field, like you can’t take anybody lightly. So we’re just preparing just for us to be better as a team and be able to go into this game with our head high.”

Virginia sits at the bottom of the ACC in several categories, including rushing yards allowed (227) and total yards allowed (447) through the first two weeks, but Maryland’s offensive line could still face a tougher test with former Spalding star Jahmeer Carter leading the Cavs’ defensive line while safety Jonas Sanker has racked up 19 tackles through two games.

“They do a lot of good stuff defensively. They like playing man coverage. I think the biggest thing is the front seven, they got a really good box. [They] can stop the run, get pressure on the quarterback, stuff like that,” quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa said. “So, [the] biggest thing for us is starting fast and finishing strong.”

While Maryland will look to move to 3-0 for the third consecutive season, they’ll also do so in new uniforms after the program announced the debut of Black Script Terps last month.

“They’re one of a kind. That’s a plus to come into Maryland, the uniforms. That’s exactly what I was looking for.”

Maryland will look to win its second consecutive game on national TV, with a third currently set for next week’s conference opener against Michigan State, when Virginia arrives for a 7 PM kickoff on Friday. More importantly, it’ll be the second consecutive night game inside SECU Stadium.

“It’s exciting. I think the whole group’s excited mainly for the blackout, knowing it’s a Friday night game. So all eyes are going to be on us but it was just like that last week with the night game. So we look forward to having all eyes on us and coming ready to play.”

Kickoff is set for 7 PM inside SECU Stadium.

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