COLLEGE PARK, Md. — For the University of Maryland football team the love of the game has never been stronger.
"Just being able to see the guys running around, the energy level of the practices have just been remarkable," said Head Coach Mike Locksley. "I think there’s that appreciation that you don’t appreciate something until it’s gone."
Now it’s back.
The Terrapins' season has been given new life. The Big Ten Conference reversed course last week and approved a fall schedule after originally postponing the season in early August. The last few weeks have been an emotional whirlwind for players.
"We were kind of all over the place," said Terps defensive back Tahj Capehart. "We were really pushing to have a season then they shut the Big Ten down. Now we’re all excited, man. We’re ready to work."
"Excitement is through the roof. It’s been a roller coaster, just getting shut down, being resumed to play, back-and-forth, back-and-forth," said Terps wide receiver Brian Cobbs. "Just the fact that we have a date where we’re going to play on TV, I think that’s the biggest thing that’s been motivating our guys."
That date is the October 24 - the new season opener at Northwestern.
Who starts that game at quarterback is a huge question for Maryland. Lance LeGendre and Alabama transfer Taulia Tagovailoa are competing for the job. For Taulia, the younger brother of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua, the season’s delay may have helped him.
"For Taulia I think the time has allowed him to really get to know his teammates," Locksley said. "You learn a lot about people when you go through adversity together, and for all of us, society included, going through the adversity of a pandemic."
Yes, the pandemic is the cloud that hangs over this 2020 season. The most important job for the Terps this year is staying COVID safe around a college campus.
"We use the term ‘behavior modification'. How we live our life on a day-to-day basis will be really important for us to continue to play," said Locksley.
"No guys are going out to parties, going out to bars, anything like that," added Cobbs.
"We all know what’s at stake. We all know what’s going on in the world we live in today," said Capehart. "So, in order for us to play football we have to do the right thing."