- The Washington Times
Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, carted off the field in Saturday’s win at Indiana, will be “a game-time decision” for this weekend’s homecoming game against Northwestern, coach Mike Locksley announced Tuesday.

Locksley said the third-year quarterback reaggravated a previous injury on his right knee sustained in Maryland’s loss at Michigan Sept. 24. The coach disclosed for the first time it was a sprained MCL, for which Tagovailoa had been wearing a knee brace for in recent games and kinesiology tape to help stabilize his leg.

He was able to make it back after the Michigan game with this same injury,” Locksley said. “It’s all about how his body feels and recovers, and we’ll continue to do the things necessary to keep his safety and health at the front of our decisions.”

An MRI Sunday revealed the extent of the injury, which Locksley said Maryland’s doctors diagnosed as a reaggravation with no further structural damage to Tagovailoa’s right leg.

“A huge sense of relief, obviously,” Locksley said. “I stood there and watched them on the way out, it looked like it was very painful. 

“I’m just very thankful that he had the knee brace on. He fights us — he didn’t want to play in a knee brace for the last two, three weeks. We forced him to do it … now it’s just a matter of managing the rehab that goes along with strengthening him and getting him ready to go.”

Tagovailoa left the field early in the fourth quarter with the Terrapins trailing Indiana 27-24 after a Hoosiers defender tumbled helmet-first into his right knee after throwing a pass. Freshman quarterback Billy Edwards Jr. replaced him, leading two touchdown drives and rushing for a score himself in a 38-33 Maryland comeback win.

“I feel like it’s no real drop-off when it comes to the offense,” receiver Dontay Demus Jr. said of Edwards. “He knows us receivers, backs, and knows the scheme of everything. So, I feel like Billy’s just on track.”

Buttressed by the promising play of Edwards, Maryland (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) gets some schedule relief over the next two weeks that could give the team some room to avoid having to rush Tagovailoa back. 

Locksley said the Terrapins recruited Edwards, a Burke, Virginia, native who originally committed to Wake Forest, from the transfer portal for exactly this kind of scenario.

“We had a plan of what we wanted to get executed in the running game in the second half. He came in and executed it to a T, made some big plays, protected the football.” Locksley said. “And I expect him to — if he’s the guy that has to play for us this week — I expect him to be able to come in, execute our system as well as anybody, and give us a chance.”

It starts with a homecoming matchup with the Wildcats (1-5, 1-2), the worst team in the Big Ten and losers of five-straight games. It’s always a highlight of the Terrapins’ schedule and brings a significant number of players and alumni back to College Park. They’ll also have the opportunity to potentially see Maryland reach bowl eligibility in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2013-14.

“We realize just how valuable a commodity time is. And when former players come back to support the program, to support the mission that we’ve started here to get this program back to where we all can be really proud of it, that’s always a great thing,” Locksley said.

The Terrapins have their bye the following week, but Locksley doesn’t have his mind on that respite yet by a long shot.

“We’re worried about trying to prepare ourselves for Northwestern,” Locksley said. “And again, I respect [the] question, but for us, you put that tape on of Northwestern, I would doubt very seriously anybody in our program feels like we’re gonna come into this thing and just not approach it as if we’ve every other game that we prepare for.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the result of Saturday’s game. 

• George Gerbo can be reached at ggerbo@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.