ORONO — Warren Smith shows no ill effects from the foot injury that ended his season prematurely in 2009.
The junior quarterback moved fluidly and threw the ball effectively Wednesday during the University of Maine’s second preseason football scrimmage on Morse Field.
Smith performed confidently, with his usual swagger, as he took most of the first-team snaps during the practice. That would appear to make him the front-runner to retain the starting position he lost when he suffered a broken bone in his left foot during the Bears’ Nov. 7 game at James Madison.
On Wednesday, he completed nine of 13 passes for 170 yards. He was intercepted once.
Junior Chris Treister of Cape Elizabeth continues to compete with Smith for the starting job. He completed seven of 13 passes for 88 yards and TD Wednesday.
Head coach Jack Cosgrove, who still hasn’t anointed a starter at quarterback, likes the level of talent and versatility the Bears have at the “skill” positions.
“I think the thing that’s neat is we’ve got capable personnel, got some depth in those areas,” he said. “We’re a team that has two very good quarterbacks and some playmakers at receiver.”
Smith, who transferred to UMaine after Iona College disbanded its program following the 2008 season, had two bones fused together after suffering a Lisfranc’s fracture.
“It’s been a long time,” he said of the recovery and rehabilitation. “I remember sitting in the hospital with my foot in a cast. I said in seven or eight months I’ll be playing a game.”
Smith, who has received full medical clearance, said the foot does require some extra care.
“In the morning, I get up and it’s a little stiff,” he said. “Like I warm up my arm before a game, I warm up my foot. After that, it doesn’t bother me at all.”
Smith’s preferred target Wednesday was senior wide receiver Tyrell Jones, who made four catches for 68 yards.
“Honestly, because he’s the ‘X’ receiver, he’s always on the back side of the routes,” Smith said. “He never gets the ball, really, in practice.”
Jones’ grabs included a 43-yard bomb down the right sideline and a leaping, 6-yard reception on the opposite side of the field.
“Tyrell’s a gamer,” Smith said. “He showed that today with his big catches down the sideline and the big catch over the top.”
UMaine opens at home Sept. 2 against Albany.
Kickers looking for consistency
The Bears appear to have some good competition brewing among their place-kickers and punters.
As has been the case most of the last several seasons, Cosgrove is hoping somebody one or two guys step up and prove themselves as consistent performers.
Sophomore Brian Harvey kicked with the first unit Wednesday and did not disappoint.
Although his first field-goal attempt was blocked by Donte Dennis, Harvey converted field goals of 45, 25 and 42 yards.
Junior Jordan Waxman, who handled punting and place-kicking duties last season, made both of his PAT kicks, booted a 21-yard field goal and averaged 40 yards on two punts.
Waxman missed the spring season because of a hip injury.
Sophomore Chris Gennaro of Saco netted 34.5 yards on two punts, while freshman Jeffrey Ondish had a 27-yard punt.
“It’s been a worry to this point,” Cosgrove said of the kicking game. “They haven’t been [consistent], so it was good to see that [Wednesday]. WE had a protection element that was a concern early, but after that I thought our field-goal kickers did a nice job.”
Cosgrove also conceded the Bears’ punting is not yet where it needs to be.