What Mike Locksley said after Maryland’s road win vs. Rutgers

Maryland finished the 2023 regular season with a 7-5 (4-5) record after defeating Rutgers on the road in a 42-24 win.

“Congratulations to those guys in that locker room. Really, really proud of the way they finished. Really proud of this team. All three phases contributed today in some form or fashion but for our seniors to be able to leave there with the type of resume that they leave here, three straight winning seasons. All these kids that came in, most of these seniors came in and we [were] selling a vision for what we wanted this program to look like and they can leave here knowing that they played a major, major part of it coming to fruition,” head coach Mike Locksley said following the win. “So really proud of the group of leaders we’ve had in our locker room this season. Third straight seven plus-win season. Can’t take winning lightly. Winning is hard, especially in a league like the Big Ten. They’ve earned now some time away, get healthy, find out about a week from now hopefully what type of opportunity we’ve earned. I think, you know, if you look at this team and the firepower we have on the offensive side, we’re pretty attractive for the bowl opportunities that await us and  I can tell you our fans will travel well as well.

So, you know, ‘24 season for us is our bowl games. This was the end of our ‘23 season in this iteration of Maryland football. So I know we’re excited about the future of where we’re headed.  It starts with the bowl prep, where we’ve earned now the right to develop and continue to develop this roster. Our staff will be on the road recruiting.”

Everything that Maryland head coach Mike Locksley said following Saturday’s win:

On Taulia Tagovailoa setting the Big Ten all-time passing record

“And I also congratulate Taulia Tagovailoa [for] breaking the record today, leaving Maryland as the all-time leading passer in the history of the Big Ten, which is a huge feat when you think about the type of quarterbacks that have played in this league. And I know he’d be the first to tell you that he didn’t do it by himself. He’s had a bunch of teammates along the way that have contributed to it, but for a guy that came here under the shadow of a huge last name to make his own mark here at Maryland, but also in the Big Ten I think speaks volumes of  the type of character that this kid has and I’m really proud of what he’s done in helping us elevate this program.”

On Maryland’s strong start in the first quarter

“As I said on the headset, it’s really, really frustrating to watch that because what we did was just execute our stuff and on offense that we haven’t had that clean of execution and it just really pisses you off from that as opposed to just like man when they do the things that they’re coached to do, the way their coached would do them. In this offense, it’s pretty explosive. And, you know, I thought we came in with the right mindset, the mentality of…executing the stuff when we needed to, to get it executed. And that’s what it came down to. And we knew Rutgers is one of those teams that didn’t give up a lot of explosive like we were able to have in the first quarter. And then typically, most teams wait for Maryland to beat themselves. And today early on, we didn’t do it. Got to the second quarter, and again, we showed some immaturity. We’re playing from the front, but then we’re able to refocus after the halftime and go finish the game. I like the way we finished it offensively on the field, scoring a touchdown.”

On having the chance to have the potential to win an eighth game

“I don’t know if I was unsure if we’d get to this point. I always said that that locker room had a bunch of guys in there that they don’t quit. Quitting isn’t an option for us. To win seven, which is the best we could finish when we put ourselves in this position, to finish strong we finished the month of November better than we have maybe the last few years. Again, I give credit to the senior leadership and in the locker room. I give credit to the staff, which did a tremendous job of continuing to coach our guys through that tough stretch we had there in October. But again, this team has shown resiliency. This is a group of guys that came together. Nobody really thought much about Maryland football. You see a bunch of seniors that made a decision to come here.  We were selling a vision. They wanted to be a part of building a program themselves with their hands. And the senior group leaves here having left a huge mark in our program that allows us to continue this process of developing a team and compete for championships.”

On how big of a focus Taulia breaking the record was

“We knew that we didn’t have to work harder than the record because we just executed our system. It takes care of itself. Results take care of themselves based on the process and they put a lot of work in this week. Our offense did a great job in timing and the execution on offense was probably the best it’s been in the first half of this game probably in about a month. It’s great to see us finish on a note like that, which now allows us to continue to develop some of these younger players. And as we are going prep for our bowl game, this is where you will start seeing some of the dividends of some of the young players that we played throughout the year.”

On when Locksley, Maryland was aware Taulia set the record

“We found out about halftime. I think was when I found out. But at the end of the game, once we had this thing locked up, it was great to be able to go up to him and thank him. Like I said, he made a decision to come here and he could have gone a lot of places. And I know not everybody is a huge Tagovailoa fan, but I assure him that for what he’s been able to help us elevate this program,  we owe him a lot.”

On Maryland’s defensive performance

“Our defense, like I said, has played to a level that I think in some of that bad stretch, our defense gave us enough effort and played well enough for us to have a few more wins in the other two phases that we had to get kind of going and the defense never flinched. We had a lot of leadership over there, some veteran players that have played a lot of football and on that side of the ball, we got some alpha personalities and they led us through the tough stretch. It was good to see them finishing up playing defensive the way they did against Rutgers, when we knew what they wanted to be able to do. We were able to kind of contain the running game and forced Rutgers to play kind of out of their element.”

On Rutgers’ second quarter offense, two touchdowns

“No, I was talking about our defense and the tough stretch of the four game losing streak, them continuing to play through it. But then also today was a byproduct of that as well, where we had a second quarter momentum shift and then passed. We haven’t been a team that fought through the negative plays of the momentum the way we did in the second half. And like I said, to be able to regroup at halftime and come out and execute on defense, getting off the field and offensively well enough to get a couple of scores just to close the game out.”

On the impact of the senior class

“I think more than anything, the foundation that they left. That’s the part. The future is bright here because of them making decisions to come when it wasn’t cool to come to Maryland. And there’s some talented players in that group that had a chance to go to a lot of places and these guys made a decision that they want to take the hard road. Because of that, where the program and where they leave our program, you now have the opportunity to recruit some of the best players in the country to play in the best league in the country. We’ve shown that if we can get the right players in here and our coaching staff do a great job of developing them, we’ll have a chance to kind of make a mark in this league. We’re still kind of the new kids on the block in the Big Ten. To have three straight winning seasons in a league like this, it speaks volumes to the type of program that we’re building.”

On two strong weeks from the defense

“Again, I mean, Brian Williams, the defense staff, Lance Thompson, Zac Spavital, Henry Baker, James Thomas. All those guys have done a really good job. The camaraderie they have on that defensive side of the ball, the way those players played together and they played with tremendous effort. That doesn’t just happen by chance. I think that that’s developed. That’s part of kind of the DNA of what we want to become the consistency that you see. This league has a lot of really talented defenses. Our defense really has stood up and stood against some of the better offenses in this league. I hope we can continue to build on that.”