If West Virginia is to open the 2021 season on a positive note, it must find a way to win on the road, something the Mountaineers could not do in 2020.
And they will have to stop a potentially potent Maryland offense in the process.
The Mountaineers look to avoid a fifth consecutive true road defeat on Saturday against the Terrapins at College Park, Md.
West Virginia went 6-4 last season, falling on the road every time. The Mountaineers outscored their opponents 182-65 while going 5-0 at home, but owned a 120-59 scoring disadvantage during those four away contests — all inside the Big 12 and against three ranked opponents.
Still, the Mountaineers have reason to feel confident with 17 starters back from last season. That includes quarterback Jarret Doege (7,446 career passing yards, 60 touchdowns, 22 interceptions in 33 games), running back Leddie Brown (1,010 rushing yards, nine touchdowns in 2020) and defensive tackle Dante Stills (13 career sacks).
“I like our team,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “We’ve got to continue to get better. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up.
“I don’t know of any coach who has ever said they were pleased with where they are at.”
The Mountaineers yielded 20.5 points per game last season. They face a Maryland offense that returns 85 percent of its contributors from a group that showed offensive promise at times — combining for 80 points versus Penn State and Minnesota — during its condensed 2-3 2020 season.
Alabama transfer Taulia Tagovailoa is once again the focal point for the Terps after throwing for 1,011 yards with seven touchdowns, but also seven interceptions, in his first season at Maryland. Meanwhile, receivers Dontay Demus and Rakim Jarrett could make for a potentially explosive pair after combining for 41 receptions, 617 yards and six touchdowns in 2020.
Defensively, Maryland safety Nick Cross has recorded 68 career tackles and three interceptions in two seasons.
“It’s time for us to take the next step as a program,” said Maryland coach Mike Locksley, aiming for the program’s first bowl appearance since 2016.
“It’s time for us to stop talking about potential and actually go out and do it.”
West Virginia has won nine of the last 10 meetings versus Maryland, although they last met in 2015.
–Field Level Media