COLLEGE PARK — Competitions between Maryland's defensive front and offensive line were one-sided as recently as the spring.
Whether it was during one-on-one pass-rushing drills, inside run drills or full-team portions of practice, the defensive line and outside linebackers consistently got the better of their offensive counterparts.
Now? Those battles are a lot less one-sided.
"When we do our one-on-ones versus them, it's much more of an even, loaded period where it used to be leaning a little bit back toward our side a little," Terps outside linebackers coach Lyndon Johnson said.
With help from new offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, head coach Randy Edsall said the offensive line has gone from a primary concern to a unit that is going to be "maybe better than people think."
Tom Brattan had been the Terps' offensive line coach since 2001. However, Maryland parted ways with Brattan after last season, a year during which the Terps ranked 83rd nationally in rushing yards per game (148.4) and 66th in sacks allowed per game (2.08).
Maryland eventually hired Studrawa, who has helped raise the level of the line's play with his teaching and also with his energy.
During one-on-one pass rushing drills, Studrawa typically stands right behind the action and yells either his approval or disapproval based on the result of the matchup before telling the offensive lineman what he did well or wrong.
Studrawa was all over freshman right tackle Derwin Gray one day during a simple two-man blocking sled drill.
Gray was paired with left tackle Michael Dunn. Unhappy with Gray's effort, Studrawa could be heard yelling, 'Come on, Derwin. He's kicking your [expletive], Derwin. He's kicking your [expletive], Derwin.'"
Studrawa made Gray go again, liked the effort more the second time around and screamed, 'Better' as Gray finished up.
"He's a very good teacher," Edsall said of the 49-year old Studrawa, who was the offensive line coach at LSU from 2007 through last year. "He's a very knowledgeable coach. The demeanor and enthusiasm in which he coaches, I think the kids really gravitate to it. He knows how to push the buttons. But he's very knowledgeable and he has a way of reaching guys and making them understand that to be successful you've got to do the fundamentals and the techniques the right way."
In particular, Maryland's tackles Dunn and Ryan Doyle have improved under Studrawa's direction.
Dunn, a redshirt sophomore who played right guard and right tackle last year, was impressive enough at left tackle during preseason practice that coaches believe he has a bright future at his new position.
Doyle, a redshirt junior, is back at right tackle after playing left tackle the final four games of last year and during the spring.
Gray was given an opportunity to beat Doyle out for the job, but offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and Studrawa said Doyle established himself as the clear-cut top guy as early as the first week of preseason camp.
Studrawa said Doyle added 60 pounds to his squat during the summer, a significant jump in an exercise that builds and tests lower body strength and explosiveness.
"Watch Dunn and Doyle walk now with a kind of [swagger]," Studrawa said. "They didn't before."
Left guard is a question mark. New starter Silvano Altamirano is undersized at just 6-foot-2, 290 pounds and was a reserve as a junior last season.
Senior center Sal Conaboy and junior right guard Andrew Zeller are returning starters who, like the tackles, were both consistently praised during the summer.
"We've had some growing pains with that group the last couple years, because they were young," Locksley said. "Now, we're starting to reap some of the benefits of having played those guys early."
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