Maryland returns home this weekend after a walk-off win at Illinois last Friday looking to refine some things on offense and defense before the heart of the Big Ten Conference season begins next month.
“I feel like we played with better discipline, but still not where we need to be,” Maryland coach Mike Locksley told reporters Tuesday.
“It was a good game for us from the standpoint of answering some of the questions we had going into the 2021 season.”
The Terrapins were lethargic in the first half, managing only 40 yards of offense and one first down in the first quarter. That let Illinois hang around for most of the game, until Maryland senior kicker Joseph Petrino converted a game-winning 32-yard field goal as time expired to get the Terrapins out of Champaign with a win. For his efforts, Petrino was named a Big Ten Co-Special Teams Player of the Week.
“This was one of the first games where I thought we had a chance to possibly fold under adversity and was really pleased with how the team responded,” Locksley said.
Maryland faces its final nonconference foe in Mid-American Conference member Kent State on Saturday afternoon. The game is the first in program history against the Golden Flashes (1-2, 0-0 MAC) and the first game for Maryland against a MAC school since beating Bowling Green in 2018.
“This is a team that’s already played two top-10 football teams,” Lockley said in noting KSU’s games against Texas A&M and Iowa. “I can tell you they won’t come into [Maryland Stadium] intimidated.”
Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa will look to continue his strong start to the season against the Golden Flashes. Tagovailoa finished with 350 yards and one touchdown on 32-of-43 passing in the win over Illinois. The junior is averaging 281 passing yards a game since his time as a Terrapin began in 2020, the best mark over that period among Big Ten quarterbacks.
Kent State ranks ninth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing, posting an average of 266 yards per game, with a running attack divided between quarterback Dustin Crum and backs: Gaithersburg, Maryland, native Marquez Cooper; Forestville, Maryland, native Xavier Williams; and Bryan Bradford.
“They play three running backs, that are all a couple of guys from this area, that we know a little bit about that are all really good players,” Locksley said. “All in all, this will be a good challenge for us.”
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