I don’t know if any of you remember the commercial for Wendy’s from the mid 80s but with the Maryland offensive line, they make me ask “Where’s the Beef?” The line last year caused so many disruptions and stalled the offense on multiple occasions. It finished 110th in sacks allowed and 105th in rushing offense. The Terps also lost two of their linemen, center Phil Costa and left tackle Bruce Campbell who was drafted by the Oakland Raiders. With the extra year under their belt, the remaining linemen should improve, I think. Returning for the Terps are senior Paul Pinegar (6-4, 290), Andrew Gonnella (6-5, 305), and sophomore R.J. Dill (6-7, 300) on the line. As backups, they have Bennett Fulper (6-4, 295), Justin Lewis (6-3, 315) and Justin Gilbert (6-6, 300) returning.
The most experienced player of that group is Pinegar who has started 12 of his 24 games, and he has been all over the line at right tackle, left tackle, and left guard. This year he’ll be the starting center adding a new position to his skills.
Junior Andrew Gonnella started eight games at right guard last year and this past spring was one of the biggest improvements on the line. He is fully capable to play both guard positions and this year he’ll be at left guard. Dill can play both tackle spots as well.
Fulper played left guard as a true freshman last year and will probably man the right guard spot when the season starts. He had shoulder surgery before spring practices began, and it truly highlighted the lack of depth for the team. Sophomore Justin Gilbert will man the left tackle spot more out of necessity than talent. Sophomore Justin Lewis had knee surgery and participated during spring practice, but he does not seem ready to contribute at this current time.
As for the newcomers, none seem ready to contribute to the team this year, and they will start the year occupying backup roles. They include red-shirt freshmen Nick Klemm (6-5, 290) and Pete DeSouza (6-6, 310) at the backup tackle positions. Sophomore John Dillon (6-2, 285) is listed as the backup center for Pinegar. Two other red-shirt freshmen, Josh Cary (6-5, 300) and Pete White (6-4, 330) have a chance to man the guard positions.
During the offseason, Pinegar and Dill led the charge put out by the Fridge for wanting leaner, quicker linemen. They worked with Dwight Galt, the strength and conditioning coach, for a special weight loss program. The Fridge also shrunk the playbook to about six running plays so the young offensive linemen could concentrate on doing several plays well instead of multiple plays shoddily.
If the Maryland offensive line can find the beef, they have a chance to help the offense do really well and help the skill players like Torrey Smith and Da’Rel Scott succeed. However, if the offensive line is offensive, it will make for another long year on offense for the Terps.