Coming off what could be considered its most significant victory in two years, the University of Maine football team has no time to sit back and savor the result.
The Black Bears must again reconfigure their offense behind junior quarterback Mike Brusko, who engineered three scoring drives in the Black Bears’ 27-10 victory Saturday at then-No. 24 Delaware.
Brusko takes the reins from sophomore Adam Farkes, who was knocked out of the game with an injury to his left shoulder — the same one he had surgically repaired in May.
“He just took a huge hit,” UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove recounted Monday. “He won’t be around for us for a while. Certainly he’s going to be missed, but we’re fortunate to have Michael.”
Farkes joins senior tailback and co-captain Jhamal Fluellen (shoulder/neck), another offensive catalyst, on the injured list.
“I hate to see Adam go down like that, because I know he’s worked hard to get his shoulder the way that it needs to be,” Brusko said. “I wish him the best. I hope that he’s going to be OK.”
Brusko’s fortes are his ability to run the ball and his field generalship. Both will be tested when UMaine plays Saturday’s 3 p.m. Colonial Athletic Association home game against Hofstra.
“He’s a smart kid, he makes good decisions,” said Bears offensive coordinator Kevin Bourgoin. “He’s got good leadership, good poise. The biggest thing, he’s a competitor and he’s a winner.”
The 6-foot-3, 226-pounder has been forced to flip the switch, going from playing mostly as a wide receiver and on special teams to playing quarterback. He also is the holder on PATs and field goals.
“Michael’s play certainly was really a key thing for us, his response to the challenge of going in at quarterback, not having practiced extensively there,” Cosgrove said.
Brusko made the transition quickly, leading UMaine to two touchdowns and a field goal among 24 unanswered points during the last 33 minutes.
“Not getting reps at quarter-back, it takes time,” Brusko said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play in the past, so it wasn’t too much of an eye-opener for me. It definitely changes the mindset.”
Brusko has taken some snaps at QB this fall, most often in short-yardage run situations. He hasn’t spent much practice time honing his passing skills, since he has been working out as a receiver (10 receptions, 122 yards).
While he isn’t a dynamic passer, Brusko held his own while making five starts last season. He completed 60 of 100 passes for 561 yards with four touchdowns and only two interceptions.
UMaine’s spread attack is likely to continue making adjustments to best take advantage of the skills possessed by Brusko, tailback Derek Session, H-back Jared Turcotte and wideouts Landis Williams and Tyrell Jones.
Diversification or intensification of the run game would appear to be a consideration.
“We’re not a prolific offensive football team and we’re going to be successful from turnovers and field position and playing smart football,” Cosgrove said.
Brusko will be backed up by redshirt freshman Chris Treister of Cape Elizabeth, a Portland High School graduate who has yet to take a snap for the Bears.
As they demonstrated in beating Delaware, the Bears are comfortable with Brusko running the offense.
“Nothing fazes Mike,” Bourgoin said. “He’s a very calm, cool customer back there at quarterback.”