Maryland Football’s offensive line is ready for the next step

Our preview of position in Maryland football continues on the offensive side of the ball. We featured wide receivers, quarterbacks, and running backs. Next comes the offensive line.

While the offensive line isn’t the most touted or celebrated positional group, it’s perhaps the most important to the Terps’ success this season.

Head coach Mike Locksley said it was the “most improved unit” on the football team and he firmly expects them to take a huge leap forward.

The reason for the optimism is the fact that this group has a wealth of experience playing together and with quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa. All five starters from a year ago returned to Maryland and are expected to step up this season. Locksley and offensive line coach Brian Braswell have also had success recruiting offensive linemen, which is good for the depth of a group that was sorely lacking last season.

The expectation is that Maryland’s offense will be productive this season. How dominant the offense is may very well depend on the play of the big men leading the way.

Maryland 2022 offensive line depth

player Year Height weight
player Year Height weight
Spencer Anderson Senior 6’5″ 320 pounds
Johari branch Senior 6’3″ 330 pounds
Jaelyn Duncan Senior 6’6″ 320 pounds
Amelio Moran Senior 6’5″ 310 pounds
Markus fingers Junior 6’6″ 315 pounds
Mason Lunsford Junior 6’7″ 305 pounds
Eric Harris Junior 6’2″ 310 pounds
Christopher love second grader 6’3″ 315 pounds
Sean Wilkins second grader 6’4″ 310 pounds
Conor Fagan second grader 6’8″ 285 pounds
Bruno Onwuazor second grader 6’10” 310 pounds
Delmar glaze second grader 6’5″ 305 pounds
Ja’khi green second grader 6’5″ 310 pounds
Maximus McCree second grader 6’6″ 285 pounds
Andre Roye Jr. student in the first year 6’6″ 320 pounds
Yes’Kavion Nonar student in the first year 6’7″ 280 pounds
Coltin Deery student in the first year 6’4″ 295 pounds
Keon Kindred student in the first year 6’5″ 281 pounds
Clayton Allen student in the first year 6’5″ 325 pounds
Tommy Varhall student in the first year 6’8″ 315 pounds
Kyle Lang student in the first year 6’5″ 325 pounds

continuity within the group

As previously mentioned, Maryland is bringing back all five starters from a year ago to the offensive line unit. The continuity is tremendous for the Terps’ success in the trenches and for the chemistry between the five men at the front and the quarterback they protect.

Breakdowns in the group were frequent over the past year, leaving defenders gaping and Tagovailoa fighting for his life. Even more frequently, it was premature false starts or holding penalties that impeded the offense. Whether in a third-and-short situation or in the red zone, self-inflicted wounds were a common theme for the offensive line.

The terps committed the second most penalties in the Big Ten last season. While these weren’t all on the offensive line, a large proportion of them were, and it resulted in Maryland posting the third-worst red-zone offense in the conference.

“I think the competition and focus on each individual play will help with those pre-snap penalties because we’re not doing that this year,” Braswell said.

After a year together, the unit is expected to take a leap and start playing like this: one unit. With a strong offensive line, it will make Tagovailoa’s life remarkably easier and give his star receivers more time to separate. While the offensive line scheme favors passing in most cases, it will open up the offense even more if the group also improves as a run blocker. The running backs, who are a fairly inexperienced positional group, will be more comfortable with consistent blocking.

Evaluation of the guys in advance

The Maryland Football offensive talent starts with his toughest blocker in redshirt senior Spencer Anderson. Anderson had a phenomenal youth campaign that earned him excitement in the college football world and among NFL scouts. He was awarded an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention and received an 86.6 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, the highest grade for any offensive lineman in the Big Ten.

Part of what makes Anderson special is his versatility. He started nine games at right tackles and four at center last season. Its interchangeability makes it much easier for the rest of the group to find their way around.

“He can play all five positions,” said Braswell back in March. “We end up having a little bit of depth at the tackle position, depth at the guard position and depth in the middle, so we’re going to find the perfect spot for him.”

The next guy on the right side of the line is Senior Johari Branch, who appeared as a right guard in 2021. He started in every game last season, including against Kent State in September when Maryland’s entire line was awarded Pro Football Focus’ offensive line for the week. While Branch played mostly right defense last year, he’s also a capable center and is likely to be used in that role throughout the season.

At left is redshirt senior Jaelyn Duncan, who received All-Big Ten Honorable Mentions in both 2020 and 2021. Duncan is a formidable force and carries a huge responsibility as Tagovailoa’s blindside protection.

“The next step for him this year is his consistency and I think if he does that he’ll get whatever he wants,” Baswell said of Duncan.

Rounding out the left side at left guard is redshirt junior Mason Lunsford, who started all 13 games last season.

The last predicted starter is Delmar Glaze, who started the final six games of the season for the Terps in numerous spots. Glaze earned the fourth-highest pass blocking rating in the Big Ten last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Not only are all five starters returning, but all have at least two seasons of experience under their belts and have been with Tagovailoa since his move to College Park in 2020. The Terps are hoping that togetherness will pay off on offense this season.

Behind the starting unit is a ridge that pays off for the terps. Maryland struggled to find depth in the offensive line room last season, which proved to be a problem. This year, however, a lot of reserves will play a role. Some of these guys are veterans like junior Aric Harris and redshirt senior Amelio Moran, along with younger players like sophomore Maximus McCree and freshman Andre Roye Jr.

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