Northwestern hosts its first game of the year against a rebuilding Maryland squad at Ryan Field this upcoming Saturday. Despite not having lost a season opener since 2009, the Terps have just two winning seasons in the past decade. Here are three things to know about the Wildcats’ first opponent:
Maryland has been disappointing this decade
Though both programs went 3-9 last year, the ‘Cats boast a significantly more impressive track record as of late. Maryland’s last winning season was in 2014, all the way back before head coach Mike Locksley’s first stint as the main man in College Park. Since that season, the Terrapins have hired Locksley (the first time), D.J. Durkin, Matt Canada, and Locksley (again)—talk about a coaching carousel!
The Terps’ misery isn’t entirely due to poor coaching. Maryland has suffered numerous commits flipping to different destinations. Local high school product and current Dallas Cowboys safety Trevon Diggs flipped from Maryland to Alabama and spearheaded a Crimson Tide defense that ranked first in the Power Five in opponent turnovers. Dwayne Haskins, former quarterback of nearby Bullis High School and current Washington Football team quarterback, originally committed to Maryland before flipping to Ohio State and tearing up the Big Ten in what might be the best single season ever in the conference.
Their injury history at quarterback has also given them no chance to succeed: in 2019, Maryland had two starting quarterbacks with over 100 passing attempts. Without a consistent starter, Maryland was unable to get into an offensive rhythm. Speaking of a consistent signal caller…
Taulia Tagovailoa is here, and he’s good
While Maryland has yet to name a starter against NU, Alabama transfer Taulia Tagovailoa looks to improve what has been shaky quarterback play in College Park. Last year, the Terrapins threw 12 interceptions and averaged only 174 passing yards per game (sound familiar?). On top of that, the Terrapins only accumulated 16 passing touchdowns on the year, further indicating their lack of success throwing the ball.
Brother of Dolphins’ first round pick and Alabama stud Tua Tagovailoa, Taulia’s individual accomplishments shouldn’t be undermined; just two short years ago, he was one of the top high school recruits in the nation, ranking inside ESPN300’s top 150. The Terrapins will hope that Taulia—or whoever ends up as the starter—can lead his team to victory to open the 2020 season.
Rakim Jarrett could be the next big receiver in college football
Former five-star recruit Rakim Jarrett hopes to become the next big time pass-catcher for a program that has churned out legends like Torrey Smith, DJ Moore and Vernon Davis. Jarrett hails from local St. John’s College High School in Washington, DC, a college football factory that has produced numerous NFL players, where he solidified himself as the third-best receiver in his class (according to Rivals). Jarrett committed to LSU before flipping to his childhood team.
In Jarrett’s Instagram post announcing his switch, he quoted former Terrapin and fellow Washington Catholic Athletic Conference receiver Stefon Diggs in an allusion to his famous commitment statement: “I want to win championships. I want to win bowl games. And where else is a better place to do it than in your city?” Jarrett enters the 2020 season hoping to blossom into the star that Diggs became at Maryland.