Every Big Ten team is looking to improve in the coming months. This week, we're examining one position group for each squad that must be upgraded. The Maryland Terrapins are up next.
Problem position: Offensive line
Why offensive line was a problem in 2014: The Terrapins got pushed around too often up front, averaging just 121.8 rush yards per game (12th in the Big Ten) and surrendering 37 sacks, tied with Illinois for the second most in the Big Ten. Only Penn State's offensive line struggled more than Maryland's, which had decent experience but struggled with consistency. The Terrapins eclipsed 200 rush yards against both Iowa and Rutgers, but had just 168 combined yards against Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, and Stanford.
How it can be fixed (solutions on the roster): Maryland has recruited well to the offensive line, and could see a talent upgrade in 2015 despite losing three starters. Redshirt freshman Derwin Gray seems likely to start at one of the tackle positions, especially if Moise Larose doesn't return following a year-long suspension. Junior Michael Dunn started at both tackle spots last season, and also could slide inside to guard. Damian Prince, who headlined Maryland's 2014 recruiting class, should push for major playing time. Starting guard Andrew Zeller returns, and there will be competition on the interior with Evan Mulrooney, Brendan Moore and others.
How it can be fixed (potential help from 2015 recruiting class): The string of top offensive line recruits to pick Maryland continued when Quarvez Boulware, a four-star guard from Washington D.C., committed the Terrapins this month. Maryland also hoped to add Isaiah Prince, but he's heading to Alabama. Boulware and E.J. Donahue could compete for time as freshmen at the interior line positions. The Terps went heavy with interior line recruits this year, Ellis McKennie among them.
Early 2015 outlook: The talent already in the program gives Maryland's offensive line a chance to be much better in 2015. Larose's return would be big, as he started at left tackle as a freshman and provide some insurance as Gray and Damian Prince develop. There should be more competition for the interior spots, and center will be a position to watch as Moore, Mulrooney, and others vie for the starting job. The line's development becomes even more critical as Maryland turns to a new starting quarterback.