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Terps' tussle with Iowa for more than win on the field

Maryland hosts No. 5 Iowa Friday, to promote mental health awareness
Taulia Tagovailoa
Posted at 5:46 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 17:56:42-04

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Call it the biggest Terps football home game in years.

"We feel like it’s a big opportunity for our team and for our program," said quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa.

The undefeated Maryland Terrapins host undefeated Iowa on Friday night in prime time.

"We’re very excited and we know Terp Nation is going to come out and kind of just enhance the excitement level. So, we’re really ready for it," said wide receiver Brian Cobbs.

Both teams enter the game with a 4-0 record. The Hawkeyes are ranked 5th in the country.

Tagovailoa leads the Big 10 with 335 passing yards per game. The Iowa defense leads the conference in interceptions with six.

"They have elite players all over the field - their corners, safeties, linebackers and defensive line," said Tagovailoa.

"Iowa is one of the top defenses in the country.

"Something’s going to have to give with a good defense and what I think is a pretty good offense," said Terps Head Coach Mike Locksley.

With a win the Terps will improve to 5-0 for the first time since 2001 and beat a top five team for the first time since 2004.

The Terrapins are also using Friday’s contest to help promote the importance of mental health. It's their mental health awareness game.

Locksley wants his players to understand that it is okay to seek help for their mental struggles. Locksley’s late son Meiko suffered from mental illness.

"When a guy tears an ACL or breaks an arm it’s visible. When a person’s brain isn’t healthy we don’t always understand it and I think it’s up to us and people who have these types of platforms to be able to bring some awareness to such a great cause," said Locksley.

Punter Anthony Pecorella manages an Instagram page that tries to squash the stigma around talking about mental health.

"As a male student athlete it’s very tough sometimes to share your story because you are built up to be this," he said as he raised his hands about his head. "So when you let your guard down a little bit you’re not the big tough guy anymore. But, I definitely think it’s very important that people going through it definitely should."

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook