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Struggling Charlotte to host confident Maryland

Sportsnaut
Dec 29, 2021; New York, NY, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Mike Locksley (left) talks with offensive lineman Jaelyn Duncan (71) during the second half of the 2021 Pinstripe Bowl against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

During his Tuesday press conference, Maryland football coach Mike Locksley congratulated tennis player Francis Tiafoe for his U.S. Open victory the previous night over 22-time major champion Rafael Nadal.

Locksley later compared Maryland native Tiafoe to his team, which also is looking for a breakthrough season. That opportunity will come later this year when the Terps face the meat of their Big Ten schedule.

But this week, Maryland (1-0) will be a decided favorite as it travels to struggling Charlotte (0-2), which has already seen its top two quarterbacks go down with injuries.

On Saturday, the only concern for the Terps might be overconfidence.

“The team you watch on tape isn’t necessarily the team you’ll see on Saturday,” Locksley said. “This is a team that doesn’t have anything to lose, so we’ll get their best.”

Maryland wasn’t at its best in a 31-10 opening-game win over Buffalo, but it didn’t need to be. The biggest positive was the success of running backs Roman Hemby (seven carries, 114 yards) and Antwain Littleton (six carries, 34 yards), who scored two touchdowns apiece.

Charlotte is coming off a humbling 41-24 defeat at home to William & Mary, its first loss to an FCS opponent since 2017.

Third-string quarterback Xavier Williams gave Charlotte a lift with a 67-yard touchdown run, after directing two other scoring drives in the second quarter, as the 49ers rallied to take the lead. But the fourth quarter was all William & Mary.

In a 43-13 opening-game defeat at Florida Atlantic, the Niners lost veteran quarterback Chris Reynolds, who Charlotte coach Will Healy has called a potential conference player of the year, to an upper-body injury.

Then against William & Mary, backup quarterback James Foster suffered an injury to his throwing hand.

Healy isn’t letting on who will be available on Saturday.

“This is a massive opportunity for our university to host this game,” Healy said. “I hate how we’re rolling into it. But I know our guys have worked their rear end off to make sure it’s a difficult place to play.”

–Field Level Media