Regional Rival, Injury Update on Star Receiver, Recalibrating Passing Attack

Maryland will look to bounce back this upcoming weekend on the road against Penn State as head coach Mike Locksley goes for his second win in three tries against James Franklin. The latest from College Park, including an injury update on star receiver Rakim Jarrett. 

Locksley Downplays Upcoming Game

Maryland and Penn State go head-to-head on the recruiting trail countless times each season given the fertile recruiting territory inside the DMV, while Penn State head coach James Franklin turned heads the offseason with his ‘DMV to PSU’ billboards scattered throughout the Baltimore area this summer. Both teams enter Saturday bowl eligible with Maryland a chance to get back over .500 in conference play, but ahead of the border game, Maryland head coach Mike Locksley downplayed the significance of the name of the opponent.

“It’s not a rivalry game. I told our team, there’s no such thing. It’s not a rivalry game. Obviously we have to compete a little better to get it to that point but right now, they’re a regional team that’s really close that comes into our area to recruit. There are a lot of natural relationships because of the location of both universities,” Locksley added. “Other than that, it’s Penn State versus Maryland. And I can tell you that our guys are excited about this opportunity to go up there and play. I’m excited. It’s an opportunity for us to see where we line up and how we have progressed as when it comes to the Big Ten. I’ve got a lot of confidence.”

Maryland is 2-2 at Penn State since joining the Big Ten and came away on top in the last contest in Happy Valley, but heading into Saturday, Maryland will look to get back on track as a double-digit underdog. After giving up over 200 rushing yards in each of the last two games, Locksley knows one key to stopping the Nittany Lions is limiting the production from their backfield. “The way they rotate them, the way they use both those guys, we’re gonna have to continue to do a great job of getting 11 hats to the ball and wrapping up ‘cuz they both are physical runners. But like I said, you know, Singleton has shown the ability to hit the home run when given the opportunity, but both those guys are very, very talented running backs.”

Star Receiver Day-to-Day

After leaving Saturday’s game due to injury for the second time this season, head coach Mike Locksley says that wide receiver Rakim Jarrett will be a game time decision against Penn State this weekend.

“Encouraging. He’ll be a game time decision, but there was no structural issues. Now, it’s just a matter of getting him the treatment necessary. He’ll be a day-to-day deal, did not practice yesterday. Expected to maybe try to do something today but, you know, if I’m a betting man, I know Rakim Jarrett wants to play in this game and I would think that he will be available but, we gotta get through this week.”

Jarrett extended his streak of 23 consecutive games with at least one catch, but that’s all he’d come down with against Wisconsin in a lackluster affair for Maryland’s offense. The junior wideout does stand inside the top-15 in program history in career touchdowns (10), receptions (113) and yards (1,457) while Maryland is 3-0 when Jarrett records a touchdown. Jarrett leads all Maryland receivers with 34 catches and is tied with Corey Dyches for a team-high 376 yards and three touchdowns, but the offense was nowhere to be found against the Badgers’ secondary. “We didn’t manage the elements very well as a team, me as a head coach. I didn’t think we coached very well. I don’t think we played very well and managed the elements that we dealt with playing up in Madison,” Locksley added.

Recalibrating Maryland’s Passing Attack

After the worst passing performance of the Locksley era despite so much firepower, Locksley said he isn’t concerned about the statistics of some of his star players like Dontay Demus and Rakim Jarrett when he reviews the film.

“They both statistically may not be where they’re getting every target, we have a lot of talented players on our offense, and I think the diversity that we’ve created with our tight ends, our backs, our receivers typically make it a tough deal to defend because you don’t know where the ball’s going. But both those guys have had really productive years. The stats may not jump out to people that don’t know, but we’ve got, I think over ten players that have caught 25 or more balls. We’ve got a lot of young players that have stepped up and both those guys continue to be great contributors to our offense.”

While Jarrett leads the unit in receptions, drops have become an issue through conference play while Dontay Demus has 153 yards and just one touchdown on 14 catches this season. Still, Locksley pointed back to the diversity of the offense as reason why some may not be jumping out statistically, but the need for improved efficiency is one the room feels heading into the final three games of the season. “There was some opportunities, some receivers came open and stuff like that. It was just a matter of getting them the ball. With the weather and stuff, you’ve got to play through those things,” quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa added.

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