Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is finally getting adjusted to the NFL and what it takes to gut out wins at the highest level.
The Dolphins are riding a seven-game winning streak, and Tua is responsible for the last six of those wins. After struggling to find his footing and having to overcome a lack of talent around him, Tua has come into his own this season with 15 TDs, albeit offset by nine interceptions.
His stats aren’t overwhelming, but the team’s win total after a 1-7 start says it all. Tua’s 70.1 completion percentage is the best in the NFL, so he’s proving that he can be the franchise quarterback for Miami.
While Tua was dusting off New Orleans on Monday night, his less-heralded brother Taulia Tagovailoa was preparing to travel to the Bronx, New York, and take on Virginia Tech in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl as the starting quarterback for the Maryland Terrapins.
The younger Tua Brother took advantage of his New York minute with a star performance, passing for 265 yards and two TDs by the end of the third quarter in a 54-10 blowout win on a rainy day at Yankee Stadium.
Baby Bro Can Ball
The announcers marveled at the dual-threat abilities of Taulia, who finished the regular season with 24 TD passes and also ranked 12th in D-1 football in passing yardage (3,595) and completion percentage (68.4). He also displayed some deft scrambling ability, adding 42 yards (10.5 ypc) on the ground. The blowout ensures that Maryland (7-6) finishes with a winning record for first time since 2014.
Then again, they haven’t had a playmaker of this caliber behind center in decades.
It was the kind of performance that definitely opened the eyes of NFL scouts who have doubts about the younger Tua’s 5-foot-10 height. The way the NFL has changed to accomodate shorter quarterbacks with special abilities such as Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson and Baker Mayfield, Tua’s arm strength, toughness and game-breaking ability have to count heavily when evaluating his attributes.
The game’s announcers also credited Tua’s leadership in how he supported his teammates from the sidelines after being removed with about six minutes left in the lopsided game.
New Virginia Tech HC Brent Pry talking about how special the defense is going to be.
Taulia Tagovailoa throws a 70-yard touchdown right on cue 😂
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) December 29, 2021
The Other Talented Tagovailoa
Back in November 2020 Taulia introduced himself to the college football world with an all-world performance.
In College Park, Maryland, there was a buzz surrounding the arrival of the younger Tagovailoa brother, who’d won the starting position after transferring to UMD from quarterback-loaded Alabama, his brother’s school. This transfer came as a surprise to many, but it made sense. Mac Jones was finishing up his senior season before heading to the NFL and 2021 Heisman winner Bryce Young was the obvious heir apparent to the position.
Maryland head coach Mike Locksley helped recruit Taulia, the former Thompson High School star, to Tuscaloosa during his time as Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator. It wasn’t a hard sell with Taulia’s big brother already solidified as a star and his family being residents of Tuscaloosa.
In his first start at Northwestern, Taulia struggled mightily, tossing three picks in a 43-3 loss. Many of the talking heads were calling for him to be benched in favor of former Netflix QB1 star Lance LeGendre. But “Locks” refused to make the change after one game and displayed great trust in “Lia,” as Tagovailoa is called by teammates.
That trust paid off in a big way as the following start produced great results. The Terps scored the last 24 of the game’s final 30 points to upset the Golden Gophers of Minnesota 45-44 in OT.
It was Lia’s coming-out party, as he accounted for five total touchdowns (three passing and two rushing) to go along with 394 yards passing and 64 yards rushing. An electric display of his multifaceted skill set and explosive potential, to say the least.
Taulia’s had some up and down games over the past two seasons, but his potential as a quarterback is evident. He also seems to pick the highly visible, televised moments to have his best performances, which is always a positive when trying to create a buzz and follow in the footsteps of a legendary sibling.
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