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Maryland football’s quarterback room still has questions to answer ahead of the 2020 season

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The Terps have just three scholarship quarterbacks in the program and are awaiting a waiver decision.

Graphic by Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Our summer profile series is back and we’re previewing Maryland football one position group at a time.

We’ve gone over each of the skill position groups on the offensive side of the ball so far, and now it’s time to take a look at the Terps’ quarterbacks.

Tyrrell Pigrome and Max Bortenschlager both transferred, while Tyler DeSue decided to retire, leaving the team with just three scholarship options at quarterback.

Maryland’s 2020 scholarship quarterbacks

Player Year 2019
Player Year 2019
Josh Jackson SR 94 Comp, 207 Att, 1,274 Yards, 12 TD, 6 Int
Taulia Tagovailoa SO 9 Comp, 12 Att, 100 Yards, 1 TD (5 Games at Alabama)
Lance LeGendre R-FR 1 Comp, 3 Att, 7 Yards, 13 rush, 104 yards (3 Games)

The passing game should be leaned on more this season

While under Matt Canada, the Maryland offense went run-heavy, but head coach Mike Locksley’s system shifted to a more balanced or pass-heavy scheme.

As we’ve delved into while previewing wide receivers and running backs this summer, the 2020 roster makeup lends itself to a pass-heavy vision with 13 scholarship wide receivers and just four running backs.

Through the first two games of the 2019 season, Maryland had tallied 602 passing yards and eight touchdowns with just one interception, but the quarterbacks struggled as the season went on.

Jackson and Tyrrell Pigrome shared the bulk of the reps with Tyler DeSue and LeGendre being limited to small numbers, but nobody seemed to find that rhythm after week two.

Part of the issue could be attributed to poor play across the offensive line, which allowed a Big Ten worst 38 sacks for a whopping -262 yards on the season.

With six offensive linemen being brought in during the offseason — each bigger than 6’3 and 308 pounds — there should be plenty of depth and increased size to help quarterbacks do their job.

Uncertainty still remains about who will start

Locksley has some decisions to make ahead of and throughout the 2020 season, much of which depends on Tagovailoa’s eligibility. The program has submitted a waiver request to the NCAA and is awaiting a response.

While being the lone upperclassman might help his case for the starting job, Jackson’s play last season certainly did not. He completed just 47 percent (98-of-207) of his passes for 12 touchdowns on the year — seven of which came in the first two games — while giving up six interceptions. If he hasn’t fully grasped the offense and shown Locksley he can make better decisions under pressure, a change will likely have to come.

If Tagovailoa gets the waiver, he seems to be the favorite for the starting job. He has the best arm strength of the trio, which would be the best fit for the pass-heavy offense that can be expected this season. However, the lack of team practices this summer could play a factor as he learns a new system.

LeGendre played just three games in 2019 before being shelved after an injury. This allowed him to redshirt and head into the 2020 season with a full four years of eligibility. With no reason to sit, the former four-star recruit certainly would fit the bill to fight for the starting job. And he’s had a year to learn Locklsey’s system and much of the wide receiver core.

While Locksley works to reshape and build up this young program, the question arises about whether he would want to throw Tagovailoa into the fire right away or maybe use a redshirt season to look towards the future.

Locksley took time choosing his starter in 2019 as he evaluated each of his quarterbacks’ performances in fall camp. The second-year head coach stressed during last year’s battle that he would pick whoever made the best decisions under pressure and was careful with the ball. Once the team starts full practices, he’ll get a better idea of who that might be, but the decision is sure to come late.