The Mountaineers open the 2021 season on the road against a Maryland team that is loaded with talent but has yet to put it all together. Head coach Mike Locksley enters his third season at the helm with a 6-17 record. West Virginia leads the all-time series 28-22-2 with the last matchup in 2015 resulting in a comfortable 45-6 win for the Mountaineers.
The Terps finished a shortened 2020 season 2-3 including a thrilling 45-44 overtime win at home against Minnesota and a victory at Penn State. Maryland’s matchups against Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan were canceled due to Covid outbreaks.
Maryland returns 86 lettermen including 8 offensive starters and 10 defensive starters. Most notably, Maxwell Award Watchlist QB Taulia Tagovailoa returns for his second season under center. Taulia is the brother of current Miami Dolphins starting QB and former Alabama star, Tua Tagovailoa. Like his brother, Taulia also began his collegiate career in Tuscaloosa before transferring to Maryland after the 2019 season. Tagovailoa was impressive in four games in 2020 completing 75-122 pass attempts for 1,011 yards and 7 touchdowns alongside 7 interceptions. He also added 2 rushing touchdowns.
What really has Maryland fans excited is the addition of new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dan Enos. Enos was most recently at Cincinnati but spent the 2018 season at Alabama presiding over the breakout of Tua Tagovailoa. The Terps hope to rekindle some of that magic in College Park.
Tagovailoa certainly has no shortage of weapons surrounding him. Senior WR Dontay Demus Jr. returns with 78 career receptions for 1,268 yards and 10 touchdowns. The team also has high hopes for former 5-start receiver Rakim Jarrett who hauled in 17 catches for 252 yards and 2 touchdowns a year ago.
Maryland’s backfield will be led by senior Swiss Army Knife Tayon Fleet-Davis. A pair of sophomores in Penny Boone and Isaiah Jacobs should also see significant reps. The Terps also return 3 of 5 offensive line starters headlined by LT Jaelyn Duncan.
Defensively, Maryland is led by returning junior safety Nick Cross. Cross has 8 total pass breakups in two seasons to go along with 68 tackles. Standout freshman cornerback Tarheeb Still returns for his sophomore campaign. Still was named a Freshman All-American by The Athletic. Returning junior DL Mosiah Nasili-Kite (4.0 sacks in 2020) will anchor the defensive line.
Maryland welcomes the nation’s #18 recruiting class (#4 Big 10) according to the 247 Composite rankings. The class is headlined by 5-star linebacker Terrance Lewis out of Miami, FL who chose the Terrapins over the likes of Auburn and Tennessee.
Maryland is an experienced team that could be dangerous if things begin to click for them. The Mountaineers have a solid challenge to open their season. Shutting down Tagovailoa will be the key to a 1-0 start for Neal Brown and the Mountaineers.