Position Battles: LG & RT

Honestly, there's only so much you can say about offensive line battles. As important as they are, hey're really not all that exciting. To keep from having two OL battles on consecutive days, we're combining them into one post. Left guard above the jump, RT after it. Oh, and sorry about no picture, but none of the four contenders have any action photos anywhere. That should be a clue as to how inexperienced this line is.

LG

This was expected to be Lamar Young's spot to lose, but just like Emani Lee-Odai, he couldn't hold it. Unlike ELO, however, he's still in the thick of the battle. Also unlike ELO, this was more the doing of his competitor than he himself.

The Contenders: Lamar Young, Andrew Gonella

Lamar Young: Young, as I mentioned earlier, was handed this spot, at the start of spring, but didn't hold it. In short, he was outworked. He has great strength and size - 6'4", 320 - is athletic, and has a lot of potential. He's probably more naturally-talented than Gonella, too. But he's yet to put that all together and is still pretty raw. From what I've heard, he's yet to fully apply himself in practice, too, which isn't good when you're seen as a raw player. If you watched Terrapins Rising last night, he looked defensive when given criticism, which is another big negative for a raw player. If he can pull himself together, bring it every day in practice, and learn to accept instruction, there's no reason he shouldn't win the job.

Andrew Gonella: Probably the leader at the moment, Gonella was a walkon (a recruited walkon, I believe) from upstate New York. He's a smart kid who can play multiple positions on the line, but really stood out this spring at LG and impressed the coaches with his work ethic. If there's one constant among almost every coaching staff on earth, it's that they love smart, hard workers, and Gonella is one. I'm not saying he isn't naturally gifted - he is - but he's not to Lamar Young's level. Like Young, he has almost no experience. He's probably more depedent on Young's performance than Young is on his, but he, not Young, made this a battle.

Prediction: Gonella is probably the leader right now, despite the depth chart's assertion that they are tied. If Young can bring his best every day in practice, I'd be surprised if he doesn't win the spot. However he has to bring his best, and nothing less, to win the spot - his size/strength/athleticism advantage over Gonella isn't big enough to warrant average practices if Gonella is impressing.

RT

RT has never been as important of a position as left tackle, and never will be, but just like any other offensive line position, it's still completely critical, particularly in the running game. This is expected to be one of the fiercer battles this fall, as the contenders are more even than usual.

The Contenders: RJ Dill, Tyler Bowen

RJ Dill: Dill, a redshirt freshman, has a strange set of skills - his biggest strengths also happen to be his biggest weaknesses. He was blessed with great size - 6-7, 320 - but his height can make it difficult to sustain leverage. He also has a nasty mean streak, which is normally great for an offensive lineman, but can get him into trouble when he doesn't contain it. He doesn't have any experience, of course, but neither does almost anyone else on the line. I definitely like Dill, but he's a high risk/high reward type guy.

Tyler Bowen: Bowen is, like Dill, a tall, somewhat lanky OT. He's been injured for his entire time in College Park, so his durabiltiy is obviously a question. Because he's been hurt, his technique may also be iffy. Other than that, he's a great fit for a RT - tough, big, tall (not quite as tall as Dill, which may not be a bad thing), and strong. The coaches haven't been able to see as much of his play as they normally would've for a junior due to injuries, but I'd be surprised if he doesn't seriously contend for the starting spot. He'll have to work quickly, though, to prove injuries aren't an issue.

Prediction: I personally like Dill more, but Bowen winning wouldn't surprise. They're pretty similar tackles - both big, tall, strong, and tough - but I get the sense that Dill has a bit more upside, for whatever reason. But I'm not a coach (for a reason), and right now the players are too similar to declare a probable winner. Gun to my head, I say Dill.

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