Feature photo courtesy Maryland Athletics.

Trenches power Terps offense

This offseason, one stat was constant in the mind of Maryland’s right tackle Damian Prince: last year, the Terps gave up 49 sacks, or around 3.75 sacks per game, which was the second worst mark in the NCAA.

Now, after another year in head coach DJ Durkin’s offense, the Terps offensive line has become more comfortable. And now, rather than being viewed as a liability, the unit acts as the “‘tip of the spear’ for the Maryland offense,” offensive coordinator Walt Bell said.

“You can’t do it without those guys,” Bell added. “They are the guys that lead the way… If they don’t have a great day, we will not have a great day.”

When Maryland squared off against Texas last Saturday, it was the Terps offensive line that paved the way for over 260 yards on the ground and multiple explosive runs.

On the play above, junior running back Ty Johnson is able to explode through a hole on the left side of the line almost unscathed before shedding the lone defensive back in his path en route to the end zone.

Maryland struggled to create big plays in the rushing game against top-tier opponents last season, but the Terps dominated the Longhorns at the line of scrimmage.

When the offense is humming and chunking off big plays on the ground, it can make it easier on the play caller, Prince said.

“Every week we go into [thinking] just be better than them,” Prince said. “You have just got to keep going and whatever it takes to win the game, you have to come through and bring it.”

The Terps offensive line is also a crucial element to helping the team dominate through the air.

Maryland’s aerial attack is largely built to compliment their dominant rushing game. Against Texas, Maryland threw the ball just 15 times compared to 43 rushes. The Terps’ rushing attack opens up plays downfield for Maryland’s quarterbacks.

On this deep ball by Tyrrell Pigrome, eight Texas defenders step towards the line of scrimmage after the snap, allowing Pigrome to find D.J. Moore deep down the field.

Additionally, the Terps offensive line is much more sound in pass protection, which both Bell and Prince attributed partly to Tyler Bowen, the team’s offensive line coach who joined the staff in February. Bell said that practicing against the now-injured Jesse Aniebonam all summer made the team’s offensive tackles significantly better than they were last season.

Maryland’s o-line consistently gave its quarterbacks time to pass against Texas, which allows for the receivers to have more freedom to try and break free on their routes. Throughout the contest, the unit only allowed one sack.

“It makes our job a lot more easy,” redshirt senior Jacquille Veii said. “We can really work on the technical stuff at the line and try different things to get open.”

In return, Veii and the receivers provide extra support by blocking on the perimeter during run plays. The Terps receiving corps practices their perimeter blocking every day, Veii said.

As a result, one of Veii’s favorite plays from the win over Texas was his block near the sideline that sprung Pigrome for his 25-yard touchdown carry. Although his technique was a bit off his helmet was in the wrong place “we still scored, so that was good,” Veii said.

The Terps face FCS opponent Towson Saturday with a new quarterback in freshman Kasim Hill running the offense. The Terps’ offensive line will need to turn in another stout performance in order to propel the Terps to victory.

“As a group, we’re giving our all for whoever is back there,” Prince said. “I’m not gonna block differently for one guy, or block harder for one guy than the other.”

Jake Brodsky

Jake Brodsky

Recruiting Writer at The Left Bench
Jake started writing for The Left Bench during the spring semester of his freshman year. He is from Rockville, Maryland and loves all things sports related. He is a fan of the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals and Orioles and has been following them closely since he was young. In addition to sports, Jake enjoys photography. He is currently a freelance photographer who works mostly Maryland and local high school sports. He is a journalism major.
Jake Brodsky

Latest posts by Jake Brodsky (see all)

About Jake Brodsky 77 Articles

Jake started writing for The Left Bench during the spring semester of his freshman year. He is from Rockville, Maryland and loves all things sports related. He is a fan of the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals and Orioles and has been following them closely since he was young. In addition to sports, Jake enjoys photography. He is currently a freelance photographer who works mostly Maryland and local high school sports. He is a journalism major.