It was a pretty remarkable Sunday for former Maryland tight ends.
Jeff Dugan scored a touchdown for Minnesota.
Joey Haynos found the end zone for Miami.
Vernon Davis continued his tear with another score for San Francisco.
It was a reminder of the Terrapins’ tight end legacy. Maryland was a virtual assembly line of pros over the last decade, and many of the guys who didn’t make it in the NFL were still pivotal pieces as college players.
This year? Not so much, at least in the receiving game. The Terps’ four tight ends have combined for 19 receptions, 176 yards and no touchdowns.
(As a comparison, Maryland’s five-year average from tight ends – slightly inflated considering the first two seasons include Davis – are 48 catches, 602 yards and four touchdowns).
This really doesn’t come as a huge surprise, especially to loyal readers who read this back in July. From Davis to Haynos to Dan Gronkowski, the Terps had gradually stepped backward with receiving value from their starting tight ends since 2005.
But with the unit on pace for its lowest output since 2003 (Davis’ freshman season), an inexperienced offensive line in need of augmentation and not a lot of endorsements for the unit at any stage, it was worth wondering a few things.
Namely, have tight ends been needed more for blocking? Obviously, yes. More specifically, has the lack of tight end production in the receiving game had a significant impact on the offense?
“I think it’s had an effect, along with the youth up front,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I see Devonte Campbell getting better. I think he’s had a good week of practice and I think he’s a guy who is starting to block better and seems more comfortable. He has the speed and athleticism to give us some big plays. I’ve been encouraged by his play this week. I think Lansford [Watson]’s had a better week than he normally has. We’ll see how that develops.”
More likely than anything, the tight ends will remain more crucial to blocking than anything else. But some receiving production would probably help, considering that is one of the many things missing in 2009 that was part of the Terps’ reasonably successful recent past.