ORONO — One week from tonight, the University of Maine football team plays its season opener against Albany.
As of Wednesday evening, head coach Jack Cosgrove was emphatic he and his staff still had not decided who would be the Black Bears’ starting quarterback.
“We’re working through the decision-making process in the sense that we’re crossing our T’s, dotting our I’s and getting down to it,” Cosgrove said as UMaine wrapped up Wednesday afternoon’s practice at rainy Morse Field.
“We don’t want to do it early just to get the decision made and we don’t want to do it late because there’s a game coming,” he said. “I don’t have a timetable, but it’s forthcoming.”
Juniors Warren Smith and Chris Treister of Cape Elizabeth have since last winter been vying for the right to direct the UMaine offense during the 2010 season.
The competition continues today as the Bears break training camp with their 27th and final preseason practice.
The two have been refining their skills and enhancing their knowledge of the offense since the end of last season. It has been intense, but healthy.
“Both of them have been able to handle the competition well,” said offensive coordinator Kevin Bourgoin.
“These two guys, they’re great friends, they help each other on the football field, they respect each other in meetings,” he added.
Treister, a former Portland High School standout, was asked about his status Wednesday morning. Both he and Smith remain listed as the starter on UMaine’s preliminary depth chart.
“We’re still fighting. I think it’s been a very good camp for both of us,” Treister said.
“I’d definitely say that thus far it’s been a very healthy competition, and I mean that sincerely.”
Treister, who started 2009 as the Bears’ No. 3 quarterback, led UMaine to a record-setting victory over Rhode Island and suffered a loss to New Hampshire in the wake of Smith’s season-ending foot injury.
Smith earned the starting job prior to Week 3 at Syracuse and the Bears posted a 2-4 record with him guiding the offense.
The pair helped UMaine lead the Colonial Athletic Association with 247.6 passing yards per game.
A year ago, Smith and Treister were separated by Smith’s stronger arm and his season of Division I-AA experience. Now, the classmates’ abilities are more comparable.
“The difference in those two guys is probably their personalities,” Bourgoin said. “It’s a positive and a negative at times with both of them.
“This decision’s going to come from who’s got a better savvy on the football field, who’s going to, when something goes wrong, be able to rally his teammates and make the next play a positive,” he added.
Cosgrove admits the evaluation process has been extensive, which is understandable given the signal-calling background of Cosgrove and Bourgoin.
“We’re probably overly critical of it in regard to the performance stuff,” said Cosgrove, himself a former UMaine QB.
He explained a quarterback who can move the offense and put points on the scoreboard must exhibit ability, leadership and game-management skills.
“It’s a demanding position. You make decisions in a game constantly, you’re under the gun,” Cosgrove said.
In the meantime, Smith and Treister continue to work and wait — hoping to get the call.
“We’re just playing as hard as we can,” Treister said. “We’re going to leave it up to the coaches. Whoever plays, plays. Whoever doesn’t is going to do what he can to help the team in any way.
“Whoever does not get the job needs to accept it like a man and not sit around and feel sorry for himself.”
Cosgrove radio show debuts
Cosgrove will make his season debut tonight on the radio.
The Coach Cosgrove Call-in Show is scheduled to air live Thursday at 7 p.m. on the Black Bear Sports Network.
Veteran sportscaster Jim Churchill will host the weekly half-hour show (no show Sept. 2) from the Sea Dog Brewing Co. on Front St. in Bangor.
Audience members and callers will be invited to ask Cosgrove questions about the Bears. Radio listeners should call 941-9797 to get on the air.
The show can be heard live on WAIE (97.1 FM) in Bangor, WSYY (1240 AM) in Millinocket and WRKD (1450 AM) in Rockland. WJJB (96.3 FM) in Portland will air the show on taped-delay Saturdays at 11 a.m.