Taulia Mania: Terps QB putting up big numbers through 3 games
It’s not a stretch to say Taulia Tagovailoa is one of the most electric quarterbacks in the B1G.
Could that be an overreaction? You could make that case. But it’s not like he came out of nowhere. We saw flashes last year, and now we’re seeing consistency out of the Maryland QB.
Through 3 games in 2021, Tagovailoa is averaging 318.7 yards per game — second in the league only to CJ Stroud’s 321 yards per game. He also leads the B1G in completion percentage at 75.5% .
All aboard the Taulia Tagovailoa Hype Train.
Tagovailoa started the season with a gutty performance in a win over West Virginia, throwing for 332 yards and 3 TDs on 26-of-36 passing. But his biggest game was easily the Terps’ Week 3 win over Illinois, when he threw for 350 yards and a touchdown to keep the Terps in a game they eventually won with a last-second field goal. He completed 74.4% of his passes in that one, continuing to showcase his efficiency.
What a development over the past year.
In 2020, Tagovailoa played 4 games and threw for 1,000 yards while completing 61.4% of his passes — with 7 interceptions, which averaged out to 1.75 per game. But he put his name on the map with his performance against Minnesota when he threw for 394 yards and 3 TDs on 26-of-35 passing. After that, he had another solid performance against Penn State before struggling against Indiana. You could tell there was something in that arm. It just had to break out.
Boy, has it. Through 3 games in 2021, he’s already looked better than 2020. The Illinois game could have been a game where he regressed, given how close it was, how the Maryland offense couldn’t find a rhythm and how raucous the crowd was at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. But he didn’t. Instead, he showed poise and confidence — which further shows his development even though it doesn’t show up in the box score.
His coach sure likes what he’s seeing, especially after the Illinois win.
“I thought we all were a little affected by playing in a tough environment, it was a loud environment, our first road game … it took us a while to get settled down,” Terps coach Mike Locksley said. “I thought early in the game they did a good job on defense trying to mix the coverages up for Taulia, but once we got a bead on what they wanted to do, we were able to get Taulia settled down and he made some big throws.”
Tagovailoa’s name has even come up in Heisman conversation, notably from Heisman winner and ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III. If he keeps up this pace, he could easily hit the 3,000-yard mark — something only 2 other Maryland quarterbacks have ever done. Remember when he was just known as “Tua’s brother?” Those days might be long gone.
But, again, we have to take a step back and realize it’s only been 3 games. There are still 9 remaining on the schedule. It’s awful early to start talking Heisman or anything along those lines. It’s easy to see why, though, when the player in question has thrown for 956 yards and looks scarily confident under center.
What does it come down to? Simple. Decision-making.
“I feel like I am getting better at it, making my decisions,” Tagovailoa said after the victory over Illinois. “I’ve just got to continue to keep working.”
Maryland will have a quick breather coming up against Kent State before diving head-first into B1G play against Iowa. That will be the first major test for Tagovailoa and the Terps’ offense, considering the Hawkeyes checked in at No. 5 in the latest AP Top 25. That’s where we’ll find out just how real the Heisman talk is.
For right now, though, we need to appreciate what he’s doing through 3 games. It’s easy to see why Taulia Mania is taking over Maryland, the B1G and parts of the broader media. If he can keep this up — and it looks like he can — the national recognition will come.
If you’re not on the Tagovailoa Hype Train yet, don’t worry. There’s still room. But the seats are filling up fast.