Maryland coach Mike Locksley declared this summer that the Terrapins are ready to fight for Big Ten championships.
“They seem very driven, very focused and … getting and creating the right kind of habits and behaviors that allow you to play championship-level football,” Locksley said of his players on Aug. 2.
But Maryland can’t begin its quest for a league title right away — the Terps’ first Big Ten game isn’t until Sept. 23.
In the meantime, Locksley’s squad can sharpen itself against a trio of non-conference opponents, beginning with an in-state clash against Locksley’s alma mater, FCS foe Towson, on Saturday in College Park in the season opener for both teams.
Maryland, which went 8-5 last season, retains its coveted offensive weapon in senior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who threw for 3,008 yards and tossed 18 touchdowns in 2022.
Tagovailoa will guide the offense under new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, who eyes greater success in College Park after an underwhelming one-year stint in the same position at Miami a season ago.
Sophomore linebacker and 2023 Bednarik Award candidate Jaishawn Barham headlines this year’s defense a season after Maryland surrendered 23.2 points per game, the program’s fewest since 2010.
The Tigers, meanwhile, are coming off a 6-5 effort last season and enter 2023 looking to push the pace under first-year head coach Pete Shinnick.
“One of our values we say is, ‘smart, hard work.’ We want to be as efficient as we can. So, we get a lot of plays in a short amount of time,” Shinnick said, per WBAL TV-11 News. “Your defense has to be able to get their signals in. You really speed up both sides of the ball when you just do this.”
Towson scored 21.4 points and gained 322.8 yards per game in 2022, the third-fewest and second-fewest totals in the 13-team CAA.
Shinnick will spend his first season at the helm nurturing an inexperienced quarterback — the five signal-callers on the Tigers’ roster have seven combined career appearances with one start.
Redshirt junior Nathan Kent is the most experienced of the bunch, throwing for 120 yards in four relief appearances over the past two seasons. Who will start under center for Towson had yet to be determined as of the middle of the week.
–Field Level Media