Three up, three down: Maryland vs. Rutgers

Saturday marked the last game of the regular season for the Maryland Terrapins as they defeated Rutgers 42-24. A great taste is left in the mouth as Maryland will now take a few weeks off as they prepare for their bowl game. This is the third game in a row that Maryland has defeated their “rival” Rutgers, as a fast start and a strong finish were the catalyst to the Terrapins’ 7th victory. For the final time of the regular season, we take a look at the three up, three down from this weekend.

Three Up

QB Taulia Tagovailoa

Taulia Tagovailoa shined in what was his final regular season game in a Maryland uniform. It truly was a record-setting day for Tagovailoa as he finished 24/31 passing with 361 yards and three touchdowns. He added a six-yard touchdown scramble on his feet to come to four total touchdowns. Tagovailoa officially passed former Purdue quarterback, Curtis Painter, to become the all-time Big Ten passing yard leader. It truly is a testament to how consistent Tagovailoa has been during his Maryland career. Knowing he needed to have a big day in order to surpass Curtis Painter, Tagovailoa played with confidence and had one of his better games of the year. The offensive line gave him time to read his progressions as he threw beautiful touchdown passes to Tai Felton and Corey Dyches. He also was in great tempo with long-time partner Jeshaun Jones. The two connected on a few RPO slants that resulted in large chunk plays. A great day for the Maryland offense was led by arguably the greatest quarterback in Maryland history. Luckily for Terrapins fans, Tagovailoa will likely play in the bowl game.

RB Roman Hemby

Roman Hemby has had an inconsistent year for Maryland as the preseason expectations were quite high. Hemby’s performance on Saturday was reminiscent of his 2022 campaign. The redshirt junior got back to his dual-threat ways as he rushed for 113 yards on 15 carries and added a touchdown on a screen pass. Henry rushed for 7.5 yards a clip as the run game was there all day for Maryland. It was a great change of pace as the run game has been underwhelming the majority of the year. Hemby will be among the players who have a decision to make ahead of the 2024 season, but the Edgewood native was able to close out his ’23 campaign on a high note.

TE Corey Dyches & WR Tai Felton

After the first game of the season, it looked like Corey Dyches was going to be the go-to weapon for the Maryland offense. However, that was not the case as similar to Hemby, Dyches has had an underwhelming season. On Saturday, Maryland found a way to get him back involved as he finished with 64 yards including a 44-yard touchdown. The touchdown was a great play as Dyches ran a wheel route from the slot while Tai Felton ran an in-breaking route to catch the defender’s attention. Dyches was streaking uncovered down the sideline as Tagovaiola threw a perfect ball to set up a Terrapins touchdown. Although he only had two receptions, it was great to see Dyches be a playmaker in the offense again.

As for Felton, all but one of his catches were for over ten yards as the speedy receiver continues to prove big play ability. His first came on a 34-yard touchdown to kick off the scoring, while Felton also reeled in a 57-yard catch to give the offense a scoring opportunity in the closing minutes of the half. Jeshaun Jones was also able to add to his accomplished Maryland career, but Felton adds to the future optimism of the room after Kaden Prather has shined through conference play.

Three Down

CB Tarheeb Still

Tarheeb Still was most likely playing his final college regular season game but it did not go very well. Still made some plays here and there but was beaten on Rutgers’s first touchdown. Still also was the culprit of the longest Rutgers play as he was beaten to the ball and drew a defensive pass interference. Not the strongest performance from the senior. Still has really had an up-and-down season as he has found himself in the three up, three down a few times. Still did end up finishing six 6 total tackles to help his performance. Unfortunately, his college regular season career did not end on the highest note.

WR Kaden Prather

One player who wasn’t able to involve themselves in Tagovaiola’s record-setting day was Kaden Prather. It was becoming clear that Prather was the alpha in the wide receiver room based on talent alone after his stellar performance against Michigan. I was looking for a statement game from Prather as I thought Tagovaiola would look his way in order to surpass the record. That was not the case as he finished with just one catch for five yards. It may have been as simple as other receivers were schemed open, but not the best game for Prather. Prather has an opportunity to return as the no doubt #1 receiver for Maryland in 2024, the question is will he? I expect a heavy dosage of Kaden Prather in the bowl game as Locksley may try to give him a sneak peek of the target share he may get next season.

LB Jaishawn Barham

As a whole, Maryland limited the chunk plays on the ground to keep the Rutgers offense in check. Still, Big Ten rushing leader, Kyle Monangai, found success on the ground as he also broke the century mark, finishing for 118 yards on 20 carries. Quarterback Gavin Wimsatt also ran for 48 yards and 2 scores on the ground. Not all of this is on Barham but he is highlighted due to his lack of in-game presence. Barham did not have one tackle in the game and only amounted to one quarterback hurry. Not the numbers you would want from arguably Maryland’s best defender. It was expected that Rutgers was not going to do much in the air so the run defense was expected to step up. There were moments that it did but Barham not being involved in a single tackle is concerning, to say the least. In what was a good not great season for Barham, Maryland fans still pray that he will not transfer for his final season of eligibility.

Maryland will now await their bowl selection for the final game of the season with Las Vegas looking like an increasingly likely destination. The bowl game will show a lot of insight into next year’s plans and what head coach Mike Locksley has in store. Until then, Maryland will get to work on trying to get their second straight eight-win season.

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