If all was perfect, Maryland could keep all of its freshmen offensive linemen as far from the game field as possible, nurturing them and building strength for future seasons.
That is an ideal world the Terrapins don’t live in.
Instead, Maryland (4-2, 1-1 ACC) will begin the second half of the season against Virginia (6-1, 3-0) on Saturday at Byrd Stadium without right guard Andrew Crummey (broken left fibula). The senior’s injury sent the Terps scurrying during the bye week for an extra lineman to toss into their tissue paper-thin rotation.
The best available answer is true freshman Bruce Campbell, whose career consists of 13 snaps against Villanova.
The good news is he’s getting better, Friedgen said. The bad news is who he’s going to have to go against if he gets in there. It’s not a great way to start your college career. I don’t want to move him to right tackle, so he would be our left tackle against Chris Long. We’d have to give him a lot of help.
Friedgen gulped as he spoke the final sentence, and it is tough to tell whether he was searching for air or whether he considers the precarious situation his team faces troubling. Immediately in front of him is a meeting with Long, the ACC’s leader in sacks (eight) who has a Hall of Fame pedigree.
He’s probably one of the best defensive ends in the nation, but it doesn’t really bother me, Campbell said. He’s a scholarship player, just like I’m a scholarship player. Yeah, I’m kind of nervous a little bit, but in the game I’ll fall back on ‘We’re here playing the same type of ball.’
Friedgen is already considering who else he might have to press into premature action should further injuries develop. In addition to Campbell, the other linemen listed on the depth chart who were not part of the Terps’ initial seven-man rotation are walk-ons Danny Edwards and Paul Pinegar.
Freshman right guard Lamar Young received more practice reps last week, and though he’s not yet ready, and using Pinegar remains a preferred option to burning Young’s redshirt.
For now, Campbell will be the freshman the Terps rely upon. At 6-foot-7, 285 pounds and with an extra year of maturity after a year at Hargrave Military Academy, Campbell is the most ready reserve at Maryland’s disposal.
He’s got a lot of ability, offensive line coach Tom Brattan said. I think the off week was really good for him. We don’t have to focus so much on the nuances of getting ready for a game, just basic skills and fundamentals.
Campbell’s emergence permits Maryland to play a tenuous game of dominoes. Campbell will back up junior Scott Burley, which will allow the Terps to keep Dane Randolph exclusively at right tackle.
If Randolph can take most of the snaps there, Jack Griffin could slide from right tackle to right guard and allow Phil Costa to spell either left guard Jaimie Thomas or center Edwin Williams or take a series off himself.
Friedgen said recently he thought during camp Campbell would be prepared to help by the middle of the season, but that was equal parts hope and expectation.
Now he doesn’t have much choice.