By Logan Hill
A week removed from defeating West Virginia to kick off its 2021-22 season, Maryland football will look to move to 2-0 with a matchup against the Howard Bison at Capital One Field Saturday night.
“Always special to host a local team like Howard,” Head Coach Mike Locksley said. “[Howard Head Coach] Larry Scott is one of my good friends in this business. I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for him and the job he’s done.”
It will be another opportunity for Taulia Tagovailoa and Maryland’s offense to showcase their dynamic playmaking. Coming off of a 332-yard, three-touchdown performance last week, Tagovailoa will attempt to build on that in his sixth career start.
“The gift and the curse of [Taulia] is that he doesn’t give up on plays,” Locksley said. “I do think overall, his decision making was on point. He got the ball to the right people a good majority of the time.”
With dynamic receivers Dontay Demus Jr. and Rakim Jarrett on the outside, who each topped 100 yards receiving against the Mountaineers, along with a handful of other skill players, the Terps’ blueprint for offensive success is clear; get the ball to the playmakers and let them do their thing.
“It was good to see them make the plays that were there to be made,” Locksley said. “[Rakim] and [Dontay] both showed what they’re capable of.”
Saturday’s matchup will also be a special one for Demus Jr., who had his first career 100-yard game against Howard in 2019, when the Terps beat the Bison 79-0 in Mike Locksley’s first game as Head Coach.
On defense, Maryland will again be tasked with dealing with a powerful running back. Sophomore Jarett Hunter rushed for 93 yards on 12 carries and also caught three passes for 35 yards in Howard’s season opening loss to Richmond, highlighting his ability to fill up the stat sheet.
Containing Hunter will be critical to neutralizing Howard’s offense and it will start in the front seven. With starting linebacker Fa’Najae Gotay out after suffering an upper body injury against West Virginia, true sophomore Ruben Hyppolite will take on a larger role.
“He’s just become the quarterback of our defense,” Locksley said. “[Ruben’s] been a great fit.”
Behind Hyppolite and the rest of the front seven, Maryland’s secondary will be tasked with frustrating junior Quarterback and Maryland native Quinton Williams. A unit that recorded two sacks and two interceptions a week ago, they are able to change the game in a moment’s notice. Starting with safety Nick Cross, Maryland’s stingy defensive backs will look to make their mark once again.
“We have a lot of guys that can play a lot of positions,” Cornerback Tarheeb Still said. “We have depth too, I think that helps us to show a lot of looks, and do a lot of stuff, switch it up a lot.”
Saturday’s game will also be played on a day of significance. The 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, unity will be on the minds of many throughout the day. Maryland will be wearing commemorative helmet decals, designed by Anthony Pecorella and Marcus Finger.
“As a young coach who was here when 9/11 took place, I did think it was important for me to talk to our players about the significance,” Locksley said. “It’ll be in the back of our minds, and we also as a program understand just how important it was.”
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