COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The bar is raised for the University of Maryland football team in 2022.
"Our expectations are high. We feel like the culture is where we want it to be in that locker room," said head coach Mike Locksley.
"Our team is ready, for sure," added quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa.
The Terps were back on the field on Wednesday to start preseason camp. Locksley is beginning his fourth season as head coach coming off the Terrapins' first winning season since 2014 and first bowl game victory since 2010. It is steady improvement Locksley is focused on. He said that’s what will take the Terps to the top tier of the Big Ten.
"We can’t worry about closing the gap between our opponents," Locksley told WMAR-2 Sports Reporter Shawn Stepner. "We need to play to the best of our ability and make sure we are doing the things necessary to give us a chance to win. That’s what it’s going to take."
Tagovailoa returns for his third season as the starter. The redshirt junior set program records last season for passing yards (3,860), completions (328), completion percentage (69.2%), touchdowns (26, tied with Scott Milanovich, 1993) and 300-yard passing games (7).
"I want to be more of a leader. [I'm] trying to do more or just do my part," he told Stepner. "And get better at being a quarterback and winning football games, whether it’s my footwork, whether it’s my throwing mechanics or progression reads."
What does Locksley want to see Tagovailoa improve on before week one of the season?
"The first thing that we talked about is the continued emotional maturity development where big plays are just routine and the bad plays we forget about them quickly," he said.
#Terps head coach Mike Locksley calls today “Christmas in August”. Says he has high expectations for this year’s team. Says they have talent, building depth especially on the lines, have experience, continuity on roster and coaching staff. pic.twitter.com/9cDeYbrRTR— Shawn Stepner (@StepnerWMAR) August 3, 2022
Tagovailoa is getting some big pieces back at receiver. Rakim Jarrett returns. He was the Terps best wideout last season. Jeshaun Jones returns after a second ACL injury in three years. Future NFL’er Dontay Demus said he’ll be ready to go for the season opener. A devastating knee injury caused him to miss the final eight games of 2021.
"All around I’ve just been doing a great job with our staff and everything," he said regarding how his knee is feeling. "They have got me back to that place where I can really get active and really just be myself."
On the other side of the ball, experience describes the Maryland defense. The unit has combined for 128 career starts.
The Terps open the season at home on Saturday, September 3, against Buffalo.