Taulia Tagovailoa feels “great” heading into Charlotte

Maryland will prepare for its first primetime kickoff of the season when they host Charlotte and first-year head coach Biff Poggi on Saturday night. With ample familiarity expected on both sides of the ball, Maryland fans were also concerned about Taulia Tagovailoa’s health following the win vs. Towson.

After taking a few early shots from the Tigers’ defense, Tagovailoa was seen somewhat favoring his left arm. The fourth-year starter showed no signs of lingering pain following Saturday’s win, and on Tuesday, Tagovailoa reiterated he feels good heading into week two.

“I feel great,” Tagovailoa added.

“Some of the hits he took, as you can see, were a part of him extending plays,” head coach Mike Locksley added. “One of the things that you love about him is that he has the ability to extend and one of the things that scares the mess out of you is when he does try to extend, sometimes he puts himself in harm’s way. As I said to him on the sideline, it’s ok to give up on a play and play the next down but I think every play because of the competitiveness he has, he’s trying to make everything work. As he continues to mature and he’s really shown the ability, he could’ve finished the game. We took most of the starters out after the first drive of the second half. There’s nothing structurally, I mean, he got banged up. When you play the game of football the way Lia plays, sometimes he takes some of these shots. My goal is to minimize and eliminate them and we’ll continue to work with him on maybe not trying to make everything a touchdown. Throwaways are good.”

Tagovailoa became the first quarterback in program history to eclipse 8,000 career passing yards, while his 246 passing yards and four total touchdowns in the first half were tied for his most in a half since last year’s win at Charlotte. The wide receiver group struggled with drops though, most notably a deep ball that went through the hands of Tai Felton, as head coach Mike Locksley points back to efficiency heading into week two.

“I think [Taulia] was 23-of-33 and he had seven drops and three throwaways so the accuracy is there. We’ve just got to continue to work with him to help protect himself. And we’ve got to do a better job on the interior part of protection where we solidify those A and B gaps to give him a little more time from a vision standpoint.”

Taulia noted the offense’s ability to execute while playing a long list of new faces, but he sees an area of growth in his own game heading into the rest of the season.

“I think the most important thing I’ve got to work on is ball security. A lot of the times I broke the pocket I had one hand on the ball, that’s something we’re going to continue to work on since I got here. it’s kind of an old habit that I have so I’ve just got to continue to have two hands on the ball every time I move around in the pocket, protect the football.”

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