clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Maryland football’s offensive line is ready to take the next step

The Terps return all five starters on the offensive line.

Photo courtesy of Pressboxonline.

Our Maryland football position previews continue on the offensive side of the ball. We have previewed wide receivers, quarterbacks and running backs. Next up is the offensive line.

While not the most highly-touted or celebrated position group, the offensive line may just be the most important to the Terps’ success this season.

Head coach Mike Locksley said it is the “most improved unit” on the football team, and he fully expects them to take a massive leap forward.

The reason for optimism is predicated on the fact that this group has a wealth of experience playing together and with their quarterback, Taulia Tagovailoa. All five starters from a year ago returned to Maryland, and it is expected they will take a step forward this season. Locksley and offensive line coach Brian Braswell have also had success recruiting offensive linemen, which poses well for the depth of a group that sorely lacked it last season.

The expectation is that Maryland’s offense will be prolific this season. Just how dominant the offense is may very well come down to the play of the big men leading the way.

Maryland’s 2022 offensive line depth

Player Year Height Weight
Player Year Height Weight
Spencer Anderson Senior 6'5" 320 lbs
Johari Branch Senior 6'3" 330 lbs
Jaelyn Duncan Senior 6'6" 320 lbs
Amelio Moran Senior 6'5" 310 lbs
Marcus Finger Junior 6'6" 315 lbs
Mason Lunsford Junior 6'7" 305 lbs
Aric Harris Junior 6'2" 310 lbs
Khristopher Love Sophomore 6'3" 315 lbs
Sean Wilkins Sophomore 6'4" 310 lbs
Conor Fagan Sophomore 6'8" 285 lbs
Bruno Onwuazor Sophomore 6'10" 310 lbs
Delmar Glaze Sophomore 6'5" 305 lbs
Ja'khi Green Sophomore 6'5" 310 lbs
Maximus Mccree Sophomore 6'6" 285 lbs
Andre Roye Jr. Freshman 6'6" 320 lbs
Ja'Kavion Nonar Freshman 6'7" 280 lbs
Coltin Deery Freshman 6'4" 295 lbs
Keon Kindred Freshman 6'5" 281 lbs
Clayton Allen Freshman 6'5" 325 lbs
Tommy Varhall Freshman 6'8" 315 lbs
Kyle Long Freshman 6'5" 325 lbs

Continuity among the group

As stated, Maryland returns all five starters to the offensive line unit from a year ago. The continuity is massive to the Terps’ success in the trenches and for the chemistry between the five men up front and the quarterback they are protecting.

Last year, there were often breakdowns among the group that let defenders into gaps and left Tagovailoa scrambling for his life. Even more often, there were untimely false start or holding penalties that handicapped the offense. Whether it was 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 those weren’t all on the offensive line, a large chunk of them were, and it led to Maryland posting the third-worst red zone offense in the conference.

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

With a year together, it is expected the unit will make a jump and begin to play as that: one unit. With a strong offensive line, it will make Tagovailoa’s life remarkably easier and give his star receivers more time to create separation. While the offensive line scheme will favor the passing game more often than not, if the group improves as run blockers too, it will open up the offense even more. The running backs, which is a fairly inexperienced position group, will have more comfort with steady blocking.

Evaluating the guys up front

The offensive line talent for Maryland football starts with its most fierce blocker in redshirt senior Spencer Anderson. Anderson had a phenomenal junior campaign that earned him buzz around the college football world and among NFL scouts. He was named an All-Big Ten honorable mention and earned a 86.6 pass-blocking grade by Pro Football Focus, the highest grade of any offensive lineman in the Big Ten.

Part of what makes Anderson so special is his versatility. He started nine games at right tackle last season and four at center. His interchangeability makes it much easier on the rest of the group to find their footing.

“He’s able to play all five positions,” Braswell said back in March. “We’ve got a little depth, finally, at the tackle position, depth at the guard position and depth at center, so we’re going to find the perfect place for him.”

The next guy on the right side of the line is senior Johari Branch, who lined up at 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’s Offensive Line of the Week. While Branch primarily played right guard last year, he is also a capable center and will likely be used in that role throughout the season.

At left tackle is redshirt senior Jaelyn Duncan, who earned All-Big Ten honorable mentions in both 2020 and 2021. Duncan is a formidable force and has a huge responsibility as Tagovailoa’s blindside protection.

“The next step for him this year is his consistency and I think with him doing that, he’ll get everything he wants” Baswell said about Duncan.

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

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

Not only are all five starters returning, but all of them have at least two seasons of experience under their belt and have been with Tagovailoa since he came to College Park back in 2020. The Terps are hoping that cohesion pays off for the offense this season.

Behind the starting unit is a hoist of depth that will pay dividends for the Terps. Maryland struggled to find depth last season in the offensive line room, which proved to be a problem. This year, however, a ton of reserves who will have a role. Some of those guys include veterans such as junior Aric Harris and redshirt senior Amelio Moran, along with younger players like sophomore Maximus McCree and freshman Andre Roye Jr.