When Maryland football coach Mike Locksley watched the film from his team’s first scrimmage of fall camp, he didn’t first look at how veteran quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa led the offense, if new wide receivers were acclimating or if defensive veterans were progressing.
Instead, Locksley focused on his offensive line. The Terps have not determined their five offensive starters, the coach said Saturday. With less than two weeks before the season opener, he added Maryland is “not close” to doing so.
Questions surround the unit, which will likely rely on transfers and returning, former backups to fill holes longtime starters left. While Maryland’s offense is loaded with talented skill position players, its success will likely hinge on how well — and quickly — the new offensive line gels.
“We know we have enough talent there and the skill we’re looking for,” Locksley said. “But now, we’re figuring out who the best five are that gives us the best chance to compete and win versus Towson.”
The Terps are replacing four of five starters from last year’s team along with backup center Coltin Deery — who likely would’ve started this season. The 2022 group allowed the most sacks in the Big Ten and a major reset may be necessary to prevent that disastrous mark from becoming a trend.
The improvement could come from an unproven group.
Maryland’s lone returner, DJ Glaze, will line up at either left or right tackle. Opposite him could be Gottlieb Ayedze, a senior transfer from Division II Frostburg State who can play both tackle positions. Ayedze earned a Senior Bowl invite last season after manning left tackle for the Bobcats.
The unknowns are largely in the line’s interior, where Maryland must replace center Johari Branch and guards Mason Lunsford and Spencer Anderson. Each of those players had been with the Terps since at least 2020.
“Last year, upfront the starters were together for three years,” Glaze said. “It’s not to that point yet, but we’re working on getting it there.”
Aric Harris, who started nine games at center in 2021 but only three last season, will likely be thrust into that role again. Transfers Corey Bullock, from North Carolina Central, Marcus Dumervil, from LSU and Michael Purcell, from Elon are also options inside, as is Amelio Morán, a career backup entering his fourth season with Maryland.
From left to right, Maryland lined up Glaze, Morán, Harris, Bullock and Ayedze in front of Tagovailoa during the team’s spring game, a possible glimpse into Locksley’s plans. Outside of Glaze, that group has a combined 13 starts for Power Five programs.
“It’s definitely a concern when you don’t have experience coming back at that position,” Maryland offensive coordinator Josh Gattis said.
If Glaze does make the switch from right to left tackle, it’ll be a transition the redshirt junior envisions going smoothly. He came to Maryland with ample experience at left tackle and said the differences between the left and right sides of the line aren’t drastic.
The Terps have one advantage — many of the new linemen who will play big roles were around in the spring and used that critical extra time to develop chemistry, Locksley said. That time is now scarce. As the Terps start their season against non-conference opponents, their offensive line will be scrutinized.
If the group finds the cohesiveness needed to succeed in the Big Ten, it could complete a dynamic attack — creating running lanes for Roman Hemby and a comfortable pocket for Tagovailoa to find receivers.
But if it doesn’t, the line could bring the entire offense down with it.