- The Washington Times
Thursday, October 20, 2022

It’s homecoming week at Maryland as the Terrapins welcome struggling Northwestern to SECU Stadium. Here’s this week’s “Terps Top Three” ahead of Saturday’s game with the Wildcats:

Decisions, decisions: Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is a “game-time decision” for Northwestern (3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network) following a reaggravation of an MCL injury last week at Indiana. That may sound like coach-speak (and it is), but Maryland coach Mike Locksley outlined the actual procedure his staff will go through to make the go-or-no call on Tagovailoa Saturday afternoon.

“I know you guys hate it when I say it, but I mean, we literally evaluate them in warmups,” Locksley said. “And then, when we walk up the tunnel, I ask the trainer, ‘How does he look? Where is he?’ And then I ask the coach who warmed him up, ‘What did he look like?’ And then we make a decision.”

Fans (and reporters) may roll their eyes at the boilerplate talk, but in Maryland’s case, Locksley notes he’s not “buying time and trying to cover up some conspiracy theory that we hide injuries.” Tagovailoa has continued to practice this week, Locksley updated reporters Thursday, with no other change to his status. Additionally, both cornerback Jakorian Bennett and linebacker Ruben Hyppolite II are also game-time decisions after missing last week with injuries.

Billy Ball: Should Tagovailoa not be ready, Billy Edwards Jr. proved he was more than capable of handling the reins in a come-from-behind Terrapins victory over the Hoosiers. 

The freshman from nearby Burke, Virginia, is no stranger to the Terrapins offense, getting approximately 40% of the snaps during the week in practice, according to Locksley.

“If he has to play for us, we have the utmost confidence in him as a staff and as a team that he‘ll be able to come in and get the job done,” Locksley said.

Edwards didn’t complete a pass (0-for-3) in his 12-plus minutes of action last week, but that’s not something that concerns his head coach.

“I would say that Billy and [Taulia] are very similar,” Locksley said. “Though Billy didn’t complete a pass in his last game, Billy is a thrower that has kind of a weird athleticism. Because when you look at him, you wouldn’t think that he is athletic as he is. But Billy has very good functional athleticism. He knows how to run the ball.”

Locksley also noted another quarterback similar to Edwards in style and “not just because he’s a redhead” — current New Orleans Saints starter and NFL veteran Andy Dalton.

Going bowling? Week after week in the final month of the 2021 season, one question persistently loomed over each game: Will the Terrapins hit the six-win plateau and make an elusive bowl game?

The question dragged on until the season’s final moments, with Maryland hitting win No. 6 at Rutgers in its final chance, two days after Thanksgiving.

This year, there’s no need for suspense, with five-win Maryland able to lock up another postseason opportunity with a week to spare before Halloween if it beats Northwestern.

Locksley wouldn’t bite on assigning any significance to the milestone.

“That’s part of the standard, or our foundation, that we want to create,” he said.

But for Maryland fans who have been through the mostly lows of this program over the last decade, Locksley’s ability to lead the Terrapins out of a mediocre wilderness and potentially into back-to-back bowls for the first time since 2013-14 should be commended. 

It’s both a sign of the program’s stabilization after the tumultuous D.J. Durkin years and a promise that greater achievements can be within reach in the near future.

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

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