Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Inexperienced O-line could cost Terps

The Wall Street Journal had a recent story that should give Maryland fans some trepidation about the coming football season. In that story the Journal explored the correlation between the number of career starts for an offensive line and the success of the team. They pointed out that Alabama, Utah and Ole Miss all had very experienced offensive lines that contributed to their surprisingly successful seasons. On the other hand Clemson, Georgia and Missouri all struggled to meet preseason expectations with inexperienced offensive lines.

In the ACC only Duke has fewer career starts than Maryland's 27. Center Phil Costa(19) and left tackle Bruce Campbell(8) account for all of those starts on the line. Lamar Young and Justin Lewis, a sophomore and redshirt freshman respectively, are currently slated to start at the guard positions. The undersized Paul Pinager (6-4, 280) is currently listed at right tackle but it would be a bad sign if either Tyler Bowen or Stephen St. John don't take over the position. The one bright spot is that there is some quality depth on the line so the staff will be able to replace underachieving players even if their backups have little experience either. The preseason practices should be very competitive and it will be worth watching the position battles on the offensive line closely.

In case you were wondering Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State and Boston College rank as the most experienced offensive line units in the ACC. It will be a fierce battle for the Atlantic division but Maryland is unlikely to be in the mix. The Terps do have a big advantage with senior, and third year starter, Chris Turner at quarterback but as Clemson demonstrated last season a weak offensive line can nullify a good quarterback. On the other hand experience doesn't always translate into success as Maryland's own offensive line proved last year. As I wrote in previewing the offensive line last August that while they were the third most experienced line in the ACC they had never gelled as a group. Like Virginia Tech's line this season there were enough struggles to make you wonder if they were just a collection of mediocre players that were a year older. Ralph Friedgen will have to hope that this young group of players can gel quickly or that he finds the right combination to start the season. At least at the most critical position Maryland has a likely All-ACC candidate in Bruce Campbell.


Lisa said...

I assume you mean Pinegar is undersized by Friedgen's standards? There are plenty of Olineman that are 6'4". I'd rather have someone with intelligence and good technique over someone who is just big. Bottom line is if they aren't in the right place and doing the right thing, doesn't matter how big or strong they are. I think Pinegar isn't getting the respect he deserves. Were you at the Red and White game? They tried putting everyone in front of him, but he prevailed.

Esquire said...

Listed at 6'4" and 280 pounds Pinegar is the smallest offensive lineman on the depth chart. The two guards at the top of the current depth chart, Lamar Young and Justin Lewis, have forty pounds on Pinegar. In terms of technique Pinegar is probably ahead of many of the young linemen on the squad but I doubt he can play tackle effectively in the ACC. He has proven to be a great practice player and a really hard worker but that doesn't mean he can match up with the elite defensive ends in the ACC. I'm sure he did fine against Maryland's second team defensive line, which isn't exactly stacked with studs, but that doesn't mean you want him going up against guys like Virginia Tech's All-ACC DE Jason Worilds. It is my opinion that he would struggle against the better defensive ends in the conference. I think the staff is hoping that some of the younger, more physically developed, players can get their technique down and claim a starting job. I don't think that is any reflection on Pinegar who, as a former walk-on, has achieved some impressive things.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Did you see this piece by The Matador, he doesnt have much respect for the ACC but thinks MD will win the Atlantic,