Taulia Tagovailoa’s health status announced

Maryland might have dodged a bullet on quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa. He suffered a sprained MCL and is a game-time decision for this weekend’s game against Northwestern after he uffered a during the team’s 38-33 win Saturday at Indiana, Terps coach Mike Locksley said on Tuesday at his weekly media session. The third-year starter has been one of college football’s most productive quarterbacks this season, and the visual of theinjury brought speculation it could be a season-ending injury

The junior from Hawaii was injured during the second half, when Indiana’s James Head Jr. fell into his leg after he threw. He immediately fell to the field, clutched his knee in pain, and was carted off the field, usually an ominous sign about an injury’s incision. A redshirt junior with a year of standard eligibility remaining, his presence has been the engine driving the program’s gradual improvement under Mike Locksleygiving Maryland a big-time quarterback for the first time in decades.

Locksley said Tagovailoa’s injury could’ve been worse if not for the brace he was wearing to protect his knee after he suffered a sprained MCL in the same (right) knee earlier. In Tagovailoa’s absence, backup Billy Edwards Jr. led the team to a win. Edwards, a Burke, Va., native who transferred from Wake Forest last season, produced a key 31-yard run to set up the go-ahead score and a three-yard-touchdown run to seal the win, pushing the Terps over the hump late in Bloomington.

“When Lia went down, I think the big message from me to our offense was, ‘Listen, Billy gets 40 percent of those reps during the week. Lia takes 60.’ We have tremendous faith in Billy and his ability to come in and execute,” Locksley said. “It’s a next man up mentality and I was really glad to see Billy come in and do what he did.”

Tagovailoa ranks first in school history in single-season passing yards, touchdowns and completions, all in last season, along with career completion percentage and career 300-yard passing games. Last year, when he broke those records, he ranked third in the Big Ten in passing efficiency and yard, and first in completions. The younger brother of former Alabama star and Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoahe transferred from Alabama after his freshman season, following Locksley, who’d been his offensive coordinator there.

Last week, Pro Football Focus ranked him as one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the country, saying has the best passer rating against the blitz of anyone.

“Tagovailoa has taken massive strides with the Terps over the last couple of years. This year, he’s consistently delivering accurate and anticipatory throws when the play is going according to plan and staying composed when things start to break down. Tagovailoa’s grade against the blitz says a lot about his poise behind center,” PFF’s Anthony Teach wrote.

If Tagovailoa can’t play, Maryland (5-2 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) is going to continue winning, it’ll need strong play from Edwards and might lean more on its running game. Freshman Roman Hemby rushed for 107 yards against the Hoosiers, his third 100-yard performance in seven career starts. He ranks seventh in the Big Ten with 6.2 yards per carry. It would be unrealistic to expect Tagovailoa’s surgical passing ability from Edwards, but he’s much bigger than Tagovailoa at 6-3, 207 pounds and has shown some playmaking ability.

Maryland hosts downtrodden Northwestern (1-5, 1-2) Saturday at 3:30 pm

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