COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WDVM) – Before turning to Taulia Tagovailoa, and handing him the reigns to the quarterback spot at College Park, the program had an abysmal history of success at the spot. Before Taulia joined the Terps in 2020, Maryland had not had a 300-yard passer in 82 consecutive games.
Fast forward to the present day, and the Terrapins are hours away from competing in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, thanks in large part to the record breaking season Taulia mustered up, despite injury woes within the team’s offensive core.
“Coming into this game, he only started four games in his career.” said Locksley, emphasizing Taulia’s experience before the 2021 season. “He’s a redshirt sophomore, going into this season. And so every game he was able to play, I think you saw him keep adding to what I call the quarterback tool box.”
Locksley would explain Taulia is “rarely” a player who makes the same mistake twice, but will take in the coaching to correct it as soon as he can.
“I think I’m kind of traumatized by the Northwestern game, I mean that’s where it really started.” said Taulia. “My first year, since then you kind of don’t want to feel like that again.”
Maryland would lose 43-3 in the first game of the 2020 season, and Taulia’s first start as a Terrapin. He threw 14 of 25 passes, for 94 yards, and only had three interceptions to show for it.
“The bad plays, I think it sticks with you more.” Taulia said, when asked if he weighs his mistakes more than he celebrates his victories. “It does help motivate me, and push me for sure.”
The path for Maryland to gain bowl eligibility hasn’t been easy, considering the injuries the team has had to battle, especially early in the season to their receiving core. 10 different receivers caught more than 10 passes this season, with eight different people bringing the ball down for a score. Because of his growth, and teammates, the junior quarterback set the single-season school record for passing yards (3,595) and completions (308).
Star wideout Dontay Demus Jr. announced he would return for another season with the Terrapins, giving Maryland a big boost as they prepare for the season ahead.
“It’s just a testament to our offense, and the things that they do.” said Taulia, “Of course I’m gonna get the credit for it cause I’m throwing the ball and stuff, but my O-line gives me the time for me to find my receivers, and they are always in the right places. And they are the one catching the ball, they are the one blocking for me, so I think that is just a testament for the whole group.”
The ‘whole group’ will have a chance to play one more game together, when the Terps kickoff against the Virginia Tech Hokies at 2pm on December 29 for the Pinstripe Bowl, at Yankee Stadium.