One of Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen’s camp refrains was the need to find five guys to keep together on the offensive line.
And then the first month of the season came and there was constant shuffling.
Some of it was injury (Bruce Campbell). Most of it was just a search for what might be the right combination.
Saturday, the Terrapins went back to their original line. Campbell was back, Andrew Gonnella was at right guard and Lamar Young started at left guard.
If the Terps subbed on the line even once in the first half, it was for a very brief period. In turn, those five churned out an impressive second quarter that rallied Maryland from a 10-point deficit to a 17-13 halftime lead. It was, perhaps, the best the line looked all season.
“I think it was,” Friedgen said. “I thought Lamar Young came in and played well, and Gonnella hung in there. I told them at halftime I thought they protected very well and ran the ball. They were just competing at a very high level.”
Friedgen saw a substantial amount of push and movement – considering the opponent, anyway – and intended to show that film this week to the team.
The problem Friedgen has is he won’t have Campbell for at least this week with a left MCL injury. An MRI exam today will reveal the extent of the damage, but it won’t be the same line out there Saturday at Wake Forest.
After Campbell left, Maryland managed roughly 26 yards over 16 plays.
“Especially when we lost Bruce, that hurt us,” Friedgen said. “We asked Paul Pinegar to move from right tackle to left tackle, and that’s not an easy thing if you haven’t practiced. He played hard the whole game.”
Campbell is crucial as a pass protector for quarterback Chris Turner, who enjoyed his most efficient day of the season against Clemson. And clearly, Friedgen knows going without Campbell for an extended period – i.e. more than the two games he missed last month – would make things incredibly difficult going forward.
“They have to see; if it’s torn, that’s not good,” Friedgen said. “If it’s stretched, he has a chance to come back. I’m hoping and praying for the best because we need him. It thins us out if we don’t have him.”