Tyler DeSue only attempted three passes as a true freshman in 2018, and with the backlog at the quarterback position this year, he may not see the field much as a redshirt freshman either.
But with a knee injury to Tyrrell Pigrome keeping the veteran out of action on Saturday, DeSue had the opportunity to show off his potential in Maryland’s annual Red-White Game, and made the most of it.
As the leader of the Red team, which won 28-17, the former three-star signal caller completed 23-of-35 passes (65.7 percent) for 218 yards (6.2 yards per attempt), a pair of touchdowns and a 136.9 passer rating. For his performance, he was awarded the game’s Boomer Esiason MVP Award.
“It’s kinda what we saw in most of the spring from him,” head coach Mike Locksley said after the game. “He’s a guy that has the ability to operate the system, makes pretty good decisions and choices.”
For the spring, Maryland had just three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster: Pigrome, DeSue and Max Bortenschlager, the White Team’s starter. That’s given DeSue the opportunity to get a ton of hands-on experience and extra first-team reps, which is critical to the development of a young quarterback.
“It’s helped my game grow a lot,” he said. “More reps equals better play, in my opinion. Everything worked out really well for me this spring, and I’m hoping I get more reps in the summer and fall camp.”
Locksley’s offense often utilizes option passes, where the quarterback focuses on a single defender to indicate where the throw is supposed to go. Once it clicks for a quarterback, the entire system becomes easy to navigate.
“It’s simple,” DeSue said. “One guy goes here, throw the ball there. It’s not a lot of thinking that goes into it. It’s just a lot of read keys. When you finally start to get it and pick up on it, everything starts to go together. It makes the offense a lot easier.”
While the offensive system may be basic as a whole, there are still trick plays to catch defenses off-guard. Early in the second quarter just outside the red zone, the Red Team ran an offensive tackle throwback to Jaelyn Duncan, who broke a tackle and picked up a seven-yard gain.
“Linemen don’t get a chance to touch the ball that often,” Duncan said. “I was waiting, ‘They gonna call my play, they gonna call my play.’ And they finally called it. My heart was racing. I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous. But when I caught the ball, I was like, ‘let’s just get upfield.’”
Another staple of a Locksley offense is the rampant use of tight ends. Alabama’s Irv Smith was just drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft on Friday, and he was a focal point of the Crimson Tide aerial attack. The position hasn’t been a big part of Maryland offenses in the recent past, but on Saturday, all four touchdown passes went to tight ends, and that could be a sign of things to come for the Terps.
“It felt good getting the big guys involved,” DeSue said. “They don’t get enough love. They blocked well, they caught the ball well. They balled out.”
The quarterback room won’t be small for long. After the semester ends and training camp comes around, two new passers will join the position group: Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson and four-star recruit Lance LeGendre. While having two talented passers joining the team late in the game may be intimidating, DeSue isn’t afraid of the challenge.
“Competition is what this program is built off of,” he said. “The best guy is going to play. I’m looking forward to them coming here. I’m always open for competition, and I think everyone on the team is too.”