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Grading Maryland football’s position groups after its win over Towson

The Terps cruised to victory at home against the Tigers, 38-6.

NCAA Football: Towson at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland football had no trouble overcoming Towson, 38-6, in its season opener. While Maryland looked sloppy at times, the game was never in doubt as the Terps scored on three of their first four drives.

With a win under its belt, Maryland will stay in College Park this upcoming weekend to take on Charlotte. The two teams also met last year, with the Terps winning by 21 points.

After our first look at Maryland’s team this season, let’s examine how each position group performed.


Unlike some of the offense, Taulia Tagovailoa did not fall into a mid-game slump. The first quarter saw him dominate. He scrambled out of a collapsing pocket for a 23-yard rushing touchdown, and then used his arm for the final two touchdowns of the quarter. He finished the first 15 minutes of play with 152 passing yards while completing 11 of 15 passes.

Naturally, Tagovailoa was less effective as the game continued, completing 10 of 17 passing attempts for 94 yards and one touchdown in the second quarter. It’s worth mentioning, though, that Maryland would’ve scored on all four of its first-quarter possessions had wide receiver Tai Felton caught a potential 80-yard touchdown pass.

Billy Edwards Jr. and Cameron Edge split time under center in the second half, but neither stood out.

Grade: A-

Running back

Antwain Littleton II received most of the work early in the game, securing five of the first seven rushing attempts for 20 yards. Roman Hemby overtook the workload in the second half, though, finishing the game with 12 carries for 58 yards and one touchdown. Colby McDonald, Nolan Ray and Eli Mason also received work in the second half, combining for eight carries and 27 rushing yards.

While the running backs did not impose their will against an inferior opponent, the offensive line did not provide many gaping holes either. The group will need to be better, though, with tougher defenses on deck.

Grade: B

Wide receiver

Similarly to the running backs, the wide receivers played well against Towson, but were not anything special.

Jeshaun Jones, the leader of the group, had five catches for 57 yards and a 24-yard touchdown. Sophomore Octavian Smith Jr. led the team with seven targets, hauling in four of them for 42 yards.

West Virginia transfer Kaden Prather was one of Tagovailoa’s favorite targets in his first game as a Terp, racking in two catches for 18 yards, including a contested 13-yard touchdown catch.

Felton may have provided an entire letter grade boost if he did not drop two passes, the most notable being the sure-fire touchdown.

Grade: B

Tight end

Perhaps the biggest standout from the game was redshirt junior Corey Dyches. He hauled in six catches for a career-high 108 yards and one touchdown. Dyches also racked in the Terps’ largest play of the day, a 44-yard reception on the game’s first drive, and looked like Maryland’s most explosive weapon. He could be poised for a breakout season.

Grade: A+

Offensive line

While it’s hard to complain about an offensive line that did not surrender a sack in the first three quarters, that accomplishment belongs almost entirely to Tagovailoa and his pocket awareness. Maryland’s offensive line saw four new starters, along with a consistent rotation of bench pieces, and it certainly looked as though they had never played together. Tagovailoa was constantly running from Towson’s pass rush in the second quarter, resulting in a lone touchdown scored.

Although the offensive line did not derail the game, Towson is the worst defensive front the unit will face all year, and its passive play was worrisome.

Grade: C-

Defensive line

Maryland’s defensive line did not stick out against Towson’s relatively weak offensive line, but it was not bad either. Redshirt junior Isaac Bunyun recorded his first career sack on the Tigers’ first drive and forced a punt, however the team’s next and only other sack would not come until the fourth quarter. It failed to truly put Towson quarterback Nathan Kent under duress, but put on a solid showing overall.

Grade: B-


Maryland’s linebackers were solid throughout the entire game against Towson, rarely missing any tackles. They also shut off most rushing opportunities, as the Towson running backs were not able to break loose for a single run worth double-digit yards. Jaishawn Barham seemed to be limited at times, totaling two solo tackles, while Riyad Wilmot led the group with four total tackles and one sack.

While the linebackers did not wreak havoc, they did their job plugging rushing lanes and pressuring Kent when needed.

Grade: B+


The Terps’ secondary was the defensive’s strongest unit Saturday, surrendering just one 20-yard or more play. It also totaled two pass breakups and held Kent to 16-for-31 passing. Beau Brade led the team with six total tackles and one pass breakup, while Rex Fleming followed with five total tackles.

Outside of a pass interference call on Ja’Quan Sheppard, which led to one of Towson’s field goals, the secondary was locked in and a primary reason why the Tigers did not score a touchdown.

Grade: A-

Special Teams

Maryland’s special teams unit did its job on Saturday. Colton Spangler punted three times for an average of 49.3 yards per punt, four yards more than his 2022 average.

Jack Howes connected on all five of his extra point attempts, but missed his lone field goal attempt from 45 yards out. Head coach Mike Locksley later said that Howes began to experience cramps after the missed kick.

Evan Johnson came into relief and made his only kick, a 24-yard field goal.

In addition, Smith Jr. returned two kickoffs for an average of 24 yards per return.

Grade: B