COLLEGE PARK -- The Maryland offensive line is in trouble again, and it hasn't yet faced West Virginia or any Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.
"I'm not sure if we're nasty enough up front," Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden said yesterday, after shaking up the starters in response to the line's poor effort against Temple. The Terps won their season opener, 6-0, on two Brian Kopka field goals.
"The reason we didn't get in the end zone was our offensive line. We got outplayed up front. We didn't protect well enough or run block," Vanderlinden said.
Sophomore Chris Snader has lost his starting position at left guard. He will move to right guard and back up senior Jamie Wu.
Redshirt freshman Todd Wike will most likely replace Snader at left guard. Wike is being rushed into the starting lineup despite the fact he has a big club bandage on the right hand he broke three weeks ago.
Sophomore Mike George is competing with Wike at left guard, and George will be the No. 2 center behind Melvin Fowler.
"You need guys up front who are just flat nasty. I'm not sure if we have the mind-set. I don't think our mentality up front right now is where it needs to be. I still think we don't really understand how hard you have to play up front."
When asked how he could change the way his offensive linemen approach the game, Vanderlinden said, "I'm not sure we can change it."
Redshirt freshman Matt Crawford was the top performer on the offensive line in a victory over Temple, Vanderlinden said, even though he was playing his first collegiate game.
"We have some older guys who have to step up on the line or we're going to have trouble moving the ball consistently," the coach said.
Adding to the offensive line woes is the absence of redshirt freshman center Sam Marvis, who is out with a shoulder injury and might not return this season. Marvis was expected to be a major contributor somewhere on the line this season, in addition to backing up Fowler at center.
Vanderlinden never got down on the line's uneven play last season, but he had said he expected to see a lot of improvement this year.
Relief for Thompson
Vanderlinden often refers to Baltimore sophomore linebacker Aaron Thompson as "Mr. Mount St. Joe," but Thursday night at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Thompson certainly expanded his horizons.
He had 15 tackles and was part of a shutout that seemed secure until the game's final minutes, when Temple drove to the Maryland 2-yard line and could have won on the final play.
"It was like 1,000 pounds were lifted off our shoulders when Bryn Boggs knocked down that pass," Thompson said. "It was like our biggest victory of the year. We played tough the whole game, and then they're going down the field like they never had the whole game you try to keep your composure but you get a little worried."
Post-game fireworks and 25 high school bands will spice up Byrd Stadium at 6 p.m. on Saturday for Maryland's home opener against Division 1-AA Western Carolina from the Southern Conference.
It is Maryland's first meeting in football with the Catamounts, who are coming off a 59-0 victory over Mars Hill.
Pub Date: 9/08/99