NCAAF

Will Maryland football be able to improve over deflating season opener?

NCAAF

As excited as we all are that Big Ten football is back for 2020, we cannot maintain that enthusiasm for the 49-3 trouncing the Terps took last weekend against the Northwestern Wildcats in their season opener. 

True, Maryland did score first. However, that was the only time the scoreboard lit up for Coach Mike Locksley’s squad.

And then it just got bad. Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa had as many interceptions as his team had points, and any fan or person who understands math knows you can’t win football games turning the ball over that many times to your opponent. 

Hopefully, the rust from the Terps first game doesn’t carry over into this week. After all, one week can be considered a slow start. Two weeks of bad losses? It's hard to put on the Terps hat and cheer on Saturdays (or Fridays in this case) with much hope after that.

The team, of course, isn't looking for another embarrassment. The Terps matchup for this week is scheduled for Friday night against a 1-0 Minnesota Gophers team that comes into Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium as 13.5 point favorites. Locksley said a week of practice and studying will help Tagovailoa. 

"These are things that when you watch the tape, and we're going to get on the tape as soon as we can when we get back, we'll be able to get these things corrected. And he's one of those players that, he doesn't make the same mistake twice, so I would expect that he'll continue to improve once we're able to show him the tape," he told reporters this week.

 

Like Maryland, the Gophers also lost their season opener by a wide margin - the Gophers falling to Michigan, 49-24. 

But things didn't look quite as bad for Minnesota in its loss. Quarterback Tanner Morgan completed 18-of-31 passes for 197 yards with a touchdown and one interception for Minnesota, which was a 3-point underdog. And its opponent was supposed to be a little tougher - while Northwestern was voted to finish 14th in the preseason poll, Michigan came in at number five. 

So, Maryland has some work to do. Turnovers, and the ability to limit them, determine game outcomes. And Maryland's ability to quickly change their pattern on those will determine a lot about if there's a reason to tune in this season or if it's time to give up after another bad loss on Friday.

"It was his first start and I think some of that was first-start jitters. But these are things that will get corrected," Locksley added of Tagovailoa. "I like the way he took coaching on the sideline and I expect that you'll see him improve with each week."