- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Maryland looks to continue its undefeated start to the season with a quick turnaround this week as it opens its Big Ten Conference schedule Friday at Illinois.

The Terrapins (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) rolled to an easy win over local foe Howard, 62-0, last Saturday and will head on the road for the first time this season. 

“It was to great to see us being able to play a lot of players … playing with a high level of intensity no matter who the opponent,” Maryland coach Mike Locksley told reporters Tuesday.

Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa remained locked in against the Bison, going 22-for-27 with 274 yards and three touchdowns. He’s completed 76.2% of his passes in Maryland’s first two games, making him the most accurate quarterback in the Big Ten this season and the third-most accurate in the country.

“I’m just putting in the work regardless of the team,” Tagovailoa said.

“I feel like I am getting better at it, making my decisions. I just gotta continue to keep working.”

Wide receiver Dontay Demus also continued his strong start, catching six passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. The District native has racked up 261 receiving yards in two games and has caught a touchdown in six straight, dating back to last season.

“The thing from (Demus) that I’ve seen the biggest growth with is the way he prepared for this season,” Locksley. 

“I’ve seen a totally different Dontay Demus. His preparation … just individually, doing a lot of things on his own to work on the craft of being a receiver.”

The game Friday night will be the program’s first visit to Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois, and marks the last Big Ten road stadium Maryland will visit for the first time since joining the conference in 2014. It’s also a bit of a homecoming for Locksley, who was Illinois’ offensive coordinator from 2005-2008.

“Obviously a place, probably other than Maryland, that for me and my family’s a special place,” Locksley said. “I raised my kids there, my two older sons graduated from high school there, and the two younger ones call it home.”

Illinois (1-2, 0-1 Big Ten) will start quarterback Brandon Peters against Maryland.

The senior injured his left shoulder in the first quarter of the Fighting Illini’s season-opening 30-22 win Aug. 28 against Nebraska. Since then, Illinois has dropped two straight, at home to UTSA and at Virginia, with backup Artur Sitkowski under center. Maryland is 2-0 for the eighth time in the last 10 years, but finished just two of those seasons with winning records.

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