Maryland football returns to action hosting Rutgers on senior day

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Football.)

After last week’s cancellation against Michigan, Maryland (2-2) will host Rutgers (2-5) on Saturday in the Terps’ regular season finale in College Park. The Terps last played on Nov. 28 at Indiana and will honor seven seniors this weekend. 

Those seven seniors are: offensive lineman Johnny Jordan, running back Jake Funk, linebacker Shaq Smith, defensive back Antwaine Richardson, kicker Tyler Rockhill, defensive lineman Cherokee Glasgow and tight end Zach Roski. 

“We’re excited to honor our seniors this week,” head coach Mike Locksley said. “It’s a small group, but it’s a group that’s been through a lot during their time here. The guys who have stuck through all the ups and downs these past five or so years, we want to send these guys off the best way we possibly can. They’re a special group, we want to send them off the right way.”

Maryland is coming off a disappointing 27-11 against No.12 Indiana, as the offense struggled with turnovers and penalties. Against the Hoosiers, quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa had his second three interception game of the season and had several uncharacteristic missed throws. Although Tagovailoa struggled against Indiana, the Terps will welcome back a plethora of key starters on both sides of the ball.

Against Indiana, some of those key starters missing on offense included: Funk, Jordan, offensive guard Marcus Minor and the receiver tandem of Rakim Jarrett and Jeshaun Jones. This week the Terps will be welcoming all of those guys back into the lineup. In addition to those starters returning, Maryland has had extended preparation time for Rutgers with last week’s cancellation against Michigan.

“It’s been very beneficial, especially for me,” Tagovailoa said of the added preparation. “We’ve just been continuing to work hard, fixing things that we messed up on. We got a lot of guys coming back as well, so I feel like our whole team is coming back together.”

While Maryland is welcoming many of its players back, it is hosting a Scarlet Knights team that hasn’t had a game cancelled yet this season. Rutgers is one of three Big Ten teams that will have played all eight regular season games in eight weeks. Despite their below .500 record, Rutgers has enjoyed a resurgence this season under head coach Greg Schiano whose returned for his second stint in Piscataway.

Offensively, the Scarlet Knights use multiple quarterbacks, which isn’t something that Maryland’s defense has had to prepare for this season. Nebraska transfer Noah Vedral is the starter, but Rutgers likes to bring in Johnny Langan near the goal-line as a rushing threat to give opposing defenses a different look. Offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson has shown a tendency to bring in Langan on short-yardage situations all over the field, not just on the goal-line.

“It’s almost like you have to prepare for two different quarterbacks,” Locksley said. “They do have two different distinct skill sets. It makes you have a bigger menu of defenses that you’ve got to be able to call based on who’s in the game. It’s going to take us being really sound and playing with great eye discipline on the defensive side of the ball because of the creativity they’ve shown.”

Although the Scarlet Knights like to employ multiple quarterbacks, one player who’s consistently gashed opposing defenses is wide receiver Bo Melton. Through seven games, Melton has 37 receptions for 512 yards and six touchdowns. 

Even though the secondary played outstanding against Indiana, the Terps are welcoming in some reinforcements. Freshman Tarheeb Still and safety Nick Cross are both expected to return after not playing against Indiana and will be pivotal in helping to limit Melton’s production.

Maryland will look to conclude its regular season with a winning record as Saturday will be just the second time this season the Terps have played at Maryland Stadium. Kickoff is at noon and the game will air on the Big Ten Network.

“The seniors have shown their leadership in many ways, mostly by example,” defensive lineman Mosiah Nasili-Kite said. “This week is dedicated to the seniors; we want to send them out on a good note with a win.”

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