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Friday, August 21, 2009
Development of Maryland's O-line key to their success

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- It's the one unit that will truly help sway which way Maryland's season will unfold, and with about two weeks left until the daunting season opener at Cal, the Terps' offensive line still has more questions than it does answers.

"We're a work in progress," said offensive line coach Tom Brattan.

"It's not going to be a quick fix there," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen.

Not when the Terps lost five of their top seven linemen from a year ago. For a team that lost 30 players to graduation from 2008, the offensive line was hit harder than any other unit. The Terps have 27 career starts up front and the potential for two walk-ons to start in Paul Pinegar and Andrew Gonnella. There are three positions open -- right tackle and both guard spots. Overall, there are only six linemen who have even played in one game, and three are walk-ons.

Brattan said he's had the group "devouring tape," coming to practices early, staying a little later, and doing anything they can to help "speed up the process."

The good news for the Terps is that they're settled at center, where Phil Costa will take over for Edwin Williams after 19 career starts at both left and right guard, and at left tackle, where Bruce Campbell took over as starter midway through last season and could make a name for himself as one of the more astounding athletes in the ACC. After playing as a true freshman and battling injuries since then, the 6-foot-7, 310-pound Campbell is poised to be one of the conference's better linemen, as he's built like a tight end and is one of the strongest players in school history.

"I see him getting more knowledgeable about the offense, more comfortable with it," Brattan said. "Obviously both he and Phil Costa are going to be your mainstays. They've been in the fray. They're the only guys who have seen significant playing time."

Campbell said he knows the responsibility that comes with that.

"I'm being more of a vocal leader this year instead of leading by example, telling them if they have any questions, anything you want to work on, anything after practice, while we're in our dorms or at camp, just come talk to me. I'm always available," Campbell said. "I'm looking to really have depth this year, really try to get our younger offensive linemen to mature and grow a lot faster.

"I know I have to keep my head on right because most of the younger offensive linemen get frustrated really fast," he said. "In experiencing that, I have to tell them, 'Hey, let that play go. Just look forward to the next play.'"

Gonnella and Lamar Young have been leading the competition for the guard positions, and Pinegar and R.J. Dill have been leading the depth chart at right tackle. Pinegar is the only other lineman to see any significant time in his career. Pinegar has played in 12 games at tackle over the last two years.

"We're just going to have to be patient and hope kids develop," Friedgen said. "I'm not disappointed right now. I see us getting better."