The man behind the Vandwagon’s Shady Mechanic checked in rather quickly after his victory with a couple questions.
I’m not going to pretend to know how well any committed recruits will fare for Maryland. Heck, I’m reluctant to try to project what Robinson will do beyond noting he looked good as a dual threat in stretches during the Terps’ summer scrimmages and two JV games.
That leaves one other question:
Well obviously it’s time to start looking ahead. And lots can happen between now and then, but the depth at offensive line is quickly disappearing. The linemen that played this year by and large didn’t play well. Is there any reason to think it’s going to get better?
This was supposed to be the zenith of the Maryland offensive line. It just never worked out that way.
The group collectively pass protected pretty well, at least until the last two games when it was clear Maryland possessed a feeble running game. Then opponents pretty much, in Ralph Friedgen’s vernacular, “teed off” on the line with an assortment of blitzes.
Two starters will be back, Campbell at left tackle and Costa at either guard or center. Let’s say center, though Danny Edwards could play some, too.
Figure Justin Lewis, a freshman the staff is very high on, will play plenty at one of the guard positions. And Paul Pinegar will still be around; he’ll factor in at right tackle in all probability.
That still leaves one open guard spot and pretty much zero proven depth. Can Tyler Bowen ever get healthy (he’s still walking boot-bound, by the way)? Can Lamar Young improve after never really turning into a factor this season?
Will Bearthur Johnson take care of his conditioning for the next eight months? Will Maurice Hampton, Joe Faiella and Stephen St. John emerge as options?
How good are current true freshmen R.J. Dill and Justin Gilbert? Can walk-on Andrew Gonnella, who earned praise from Friedgen in the first half of this season, become a Pinegar-esque viable option?
That’s a lot of questions, and no sure-fire answers. Some of those guys will probably pan out. Some of them probably won’t. But at least this group (outside of Campbell and Costa) will have pretty much no expectations from fans beyond the fervent hope they don’t don matador costumes and treat opposing defensive ends like the featured attraction at Pamplona.
That was never a luxury for this year’s senior-dominated line, which simply wasn’t as good as a lot of people thought they would be this season.
I’m as guilty of that as anyone. I bought the hype, opting not to follow a preferred tradition of scrutinizing “experience” and instead chalking up problems in 2007 to injuries.
That was a mistake. And maybe I’ll err again while wondering just how Maryland is going to be any better next year with unknown commodities.
But with the exception of Lewis, it never sounded like most of those scholarship underclassmen were close to helping. And that’s why Chris Turner should get working on a lot of quick, timing routes with his receivers this offseason, because Maryland could very easily struggle to block for the run or the pass next fall.