Making adjustments is a critical component of winning during a long football season.
The University of Maine has been forced to realign its offense again this week after losing its starting quarterback to significant injuries.
The Black Bears and their peers at Maine’s other colleges also must be flexible if they hope to excel down the home-stretch of the 2008 season.
Hofstra Pride (3-3) at Maine Black Bears (3-3), 3 p.m., Alfond Stadium, Orono: UMaine opens a series of three straight home contests against Hofstra, which is play-ing its fourth consecutive road contest this afternoon.
The Bears hope to parlay the confidence generated from last week’s road win at then-No. 24 Delaware into another Colonial Athletic Association victory.
“I think in the CAA getting on a roll means win your next game,” said UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove when asked about the Bears’ approach heading into a three-game homestand.
UMaine heads into the con-test with junior Mike Brusko at quarterback. Sophomore Adam Farkes is out indefinitely with a left shoulder injury suffered at Delaware.
While Brusko’s forte is running the ball, Cosgrove said the Bears are confident they can make the necessary adjustments to be productive.
“We’re going to play football the way we’re capable, feature our strengths,” Cosgrove said.
“We have great confidence in him and feel very positively about him being our quarter-back. We’ve won football games with him being behind the center and we think we can continue to win football games.”
UMaine, averaging a league-low 17.7 points per game, will continue to develop its run game behind tailback Derek Session and fullback Jared Turcotte of Lewiston, while trying to get the ball to wide receivers Landis Williams and Tyrell Jones.
Hofstra ranks fifth in CAA total defense, allowing 339 ypg, but has been stingiest against the pass (156 ypg, 8 intercep-tions). Junior linebacker Luke Bonus (43 tackles) and senior cornerback Nick Altomare (34 tackles, 3 interceptions) head up the unit.
“They’re very fast on defense,” Cosgrove said. “Bonus is one of the better linebackers in the conference.”
Defensively, the Bears encounter a Hofstra team that has been solid, yet unspectacular.
The Pride’s balanced attack features freshman tailback Brock Jackolski (75 ypg, 5 TDs), junior quarterback Cory Chris-topher (184 ypg., 3 TDs, 5 inter-ceptions). They have two dan-gerous wideouts in Aaron Weaver (33 receptions, 257 yds., 1 TD) and Anthony Nelson (32 rec., 298 yds, 1 TD).
“Cory Christopher is a very dangerous run-pass threat,” Cosgrove said. “He’s their third leading rusher and he’s throw-ing the football for almost 70 percent. He’s a real talented player.”
The Bears look to stop the run first and force opponents to throw. That strategy succeeded in the win at Delaware.
Senior end Jovan Belcher (36 tackles, 8 tackles for loss), a candidate for the Buck Bu-chanan Award as the top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision, anchors UMaine’s front four. Senior linebackers Sean Was-son (41 tackles) and Andrew Downey (38) and senior safety Lamir Whetstone (35) are other defensive leaders.
Husson Eagles (4-2) at SUNY Maritime College Pri-vateers (3-3), noon, Reinhart Field, Throggs Neck, N.Y.: The Eagles go after their third straight win and their fifth in six games.
Husson, which is 4-0 this sea-son against Division III opponents, faces a SUNY Maritime squad that also will be a member of the North Atlantic Conference starting next season.
The Eagles continue to play hard-hitting defense, having allowed only 17.2 ppg in Division III play. Freshman linebacker Earl Wilson’s 45 tackles lead the team, while Keith Runne has been in on 39.
Husson’s offense continues to ride tailbacks Julius Wil-liams (108.8 ypg) and Justin Lindie of Winslow (74.8 ypg). Quarterback James McCan-dless, who was shaken up against Springfield, is expected to get the start today.
Massachusetts Maritime Buccaneers (0-6) at Maine Maritime Acad. Mariners (3-3), 1 p.m., Ritchie Field, Castine: This is one of the most anticipated games of the season for both teams in this storied rivalry. To the winner of this New England Football Conference clash goes the Admirals Cup.
Maine Maritime will try to bounce back after a tough loss at Worcester State. The Mariners take on a Buccaneer squad that ranks last in the conference in scoring offense (10.2 ppg) and total offense (203.2 ypg).
Maine Maritime’s mashers are linebackers Wade Mondoux (56 tackles) and Travis Fergola of Mexico (54).
The Mariners continue to generate ample offense, piling up 36 points and 425 yards per game. Fullback Jim Bower of South Paris (156 ypg, 15 TDs) is the catalyst.
Today’s other games: Bates (0-4) at Middlebury (2-2), 1 p.m.; Hamilton (2-2) at Colby (2-2), noon; Trinity (4-0) at Bowdoin (1-3), 1 p.m.