I’m not the type who spends much time and/or effort thinking about politics. Yet I couldn’t help but get swept up in “the audacity of hope” as events unfolded this weekend.

But with all due respect to the new President-elect, those weren’t the events I’m referring to.

Coming into this college football season, a Glenn Clark Radio listener inspired a show topic about what a reasonable expectation was to show progress in Michael Locksley’s second season as Maryland football coach. I struggled with the question. I’ve noted on a few occasions that I both believe that Locksley was unquestionably the correct hire for the Maryland football program but that the job was so overwhelming that even the singular correct person for the job might not be able to find success.

Given where the program found itself and the Big Ten-only schedule in front of it, I wasn’t even willing to say something like “just one win.” Given the insanity of an offseason in which the Terrapins had no spring practice and significant confusion about whether there would be a season at all, I didn’t know with absolute certainty that there was a win on the schedule. (And after they were blown out at Northwestern to start the season I was almost certain there wasn’t.)

But I answered the question about as honestly as I was capable of. I said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I don’t think there’s any reasonable way to measure progress via results in this strange season. I think the only real way to measure progress this season is if when the season ends, we can say confidently that they’ve identified a legitimate quarterback for 2021.”

So with that in mind, the last two weeks alone have easily been the greatest Maryland football season in almost two decades.

Ahead of its trip to Penn State, I was asked if I would bet Maryland to cover in a game in which they closed as nearly four-touchdown underdogs. Despite how impressive the Terps’ offense was a week earlier in a stunning win against Minnesota, there was real reason to believe that had at least as much to do with a disappointing Golden Gophers defense. Even at such a massive number I couldn’t possibly recommend betting Maryland. But I admitted there was a caveat. And again, I’m paraphrasing.

“I’ve followed Maryland football for three decades. I have no idea how to go about analyzing a Maryland team that might have a qualified quarterback. I have seen so few Maryland games in my life in which they even MAY have had a decent quarterback that I’m not sure how to consider the possibility.”

It appears as though it is time for me to learn.

Taulia Tagovailoa was tremendous again in Maryland’s 35-19 win against Penn State. Over the last two weeks, he’s now completed 44 of 61 passes for 676 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception. He’s exceeded any reasonable expectation — despite a miserable debut against Northwestern — which is particularly remarkable considering entered the program with the burden of being not only a transfer from Alabama but the younger brother of one of the most successful quarterbacks in recent college memory.

And then there’s the weight he carries.

While Maryland once had great success at the quarterback position, producing the likes of Boomer Esiason, Frank Reich, Neil O’Donnell, Scott Zolak and more. But since the start of the 1991 season, the program has had only one quarterback that would go on to play in even ONE game in the NFL. (That’s Shaun Hill of course, who had a very solid pro career.)

This is an almost unfathomable stretch. While much of the coverage of Maryland quarterbacks during the last decade or so has centered around how snakebitten the position has been due to injury, the reality is that the quarterbacks who were getting hurt were also, you know, not good. There wasn’t always much of a drop-off from one to the next.

As The Washington Post explored recently, Tagovailoa was the program’s 18th different quarterback to play since the 2010 season. But as staggering as that number is, what’s even more staggering is how few of them were ever even seen as PROSPECTS for a potential pro career. (Danny O’Brien after his freshman season, Lance LeGendre before he arrived and now Tagovailoa and that’s the list.)

Even if we can begin to feel like Tagovailoa is proving to be the real deal, Maryland will still need to prove they can keep him healthy. (Eighteen quarterbacks in 10 years, after all.) And I’m not trying to convince you that Maryland is suddenly a Rose Bowl contender. Hell, they’re four-touchdown underdogs against mighty Ohio State Nov. 14 and I absolutely wouldn’t tell you to put money down on a cover.

Yet I’m looking forward to seeing Tagovailoa taking his chance at doing what Maryland came oh-so-close to pulling off just two years ago, particularly after stud freshman receiver Rakim Jarrett experienced a breakthrough against Penn State.

And more than anything, I’m willing to embrace the hope that Tagovailoa is providing. We’ll see if this can continue in a meaningful way. But this is starting to feel like, at the least, the most interesting this program has been since the Ralph Friedgen era.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Glenn Clark

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