Quarterback Battle Brewing in College Park
The quarterback competition in College Park will soon heat up as Lance Legendre and Taulia Tagovailoa vie for first-team reps. Different dynamics, sure, but head coach Mike Locksley knows the offense will need stability at the helm as they iron out the depth. “We’ve not had a consistent starter during the times that I’ve been here,” Locksley added. As he and offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery take the ensuing weeks to iron out offensive kinks, Maryland won’t just rely on the eye test this offseason to determine the starting quarterback.
"There's some things that we do in practice situations that we can put empirical data on, to show us who does the best job of moving the ball down the field, who does the best job of scoring points,” Locksley said. “We'll be putting the quarterbacks in these competitive games, simulated situations, and seeing how they respond and how they perform.” The advanced metrics have given both players a chance to deeper analyze their performances ahead of padded practices, a metric that plays even more integral for a young quarterback room. In an offseason where both players and coaches struggled with consistent on-field practice time, the detailed analytics help Locksley and offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery work closer with their unit ahead of the October 24 season-opener.
Junior wide receiver Brian Cobbs noted the offense adapted this offseason to connect the quarterbacks and wide receivers together to work on timing and chemistry. Tagovailoa hit the ground running since his June arrival to College Park as the former Alabama quarterback takes advantage of added time. Since then, Cobbs has seen the offseason grind translate to added comfort between he and Tagovailoa in a practice setting. “Going back to the chemistry thing I said, they know kind of where to throw the ball, they know where we want the ball so that really helps with the offense and then it’s just looking like a real efficient machine whether it’s taking what the defense gives you when you have the big shots or hitting on all of them,” Cobbs added.” The time spent this offseason restricted access between the coaches and players, but Locksley acknowledged the added benefit from increased time for Tagovailoa this offseason.
"I think the extra time has been good because one, it has really allowed him to get to know his teammates ... He and Lance have a great relationship and have done a great job of trying to embrace their roles ... These guys have organized individual workouts when we were paused... Now I think there's a mutual kind of understanding from him understanding his teammates and his teammates understanding him. And Same with Lance."
The word ‘uncertainty’ has become synonymous with college football in recent weeks as programs wrestle with inconsistent practice time, restrictions and added protocols, but the Terps know there’s an appreciation that comes with the new format for Big Ten football. Junior cornerback Tahj Capehart noted the team was “kind of all over the place especially at the end of camp,” but with the team now back at practice, a different mindset has swept the program as motivation replaces solace. “I know some guys, the mentality was kind of off, but I feel like everybody is ready back locked and loaded and ready to play,” Capehart added as Locksley echoed the gratitude.
"I think we all have really gained the appreciation, to use the term I like to use, 'being on the grass.' For me, the grass has been my solace in dealing with tough difficult times because it's the one time during the day of my life where I can go out ... To not think about COVID, not worry about all these other issues that are going on in society, it kind of gives you an outlet."