ORONO — David Hood of the University of Maine battled hard to get around teammate Shawn Bodtmann, who was impeding his progress by leaning into the running back as he ran his pass route.
Hood refused to allow the contact to keep him from completing the play as he made a determined diving catch of a pass from quarterback Chris Treister in the end zone for a touchdown.
“This is really the first time since we’ve been back in camp for me to show what I can do,” Hood, a redshirt freshman from Galloway, N.J., said after Monday afternoon’s intrasquad scrimmage on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium.
“Everybody that’s coming in from redshirt year last year, they’re ready to make plays this year,” he added.
The catch was among a handful of outstanding plays turned in Monday during the Black Bears’ first preseason scrimmage.
“There are some guys who have a knack for that. They can make something out of nothing,” said 19th-year head coach Jack Cosgrove. “I thought we had some really nice, big plays out here again today.”
UMaine players are evaluated on the practice field every day and they know all too well there are only a few opportunities to perform under game-like conditions. Motivated by the opportunity to earn playing time, they have the chance in scrimmage situations to demonstrate the ability to produce.
And there is a sense of urgency for more than just the up-and-comers on the team who might be trying to get noticed. Even some veterans are aware their playing time may hinge on their play in scrimmages.
“Scrimmages are probably the most important and biggest opportunities for not only the younger guys, but the older guys, too,” said Treister, a senior from Cape Elizabeth who is again dueling with classmate Warren Smith for the starting quarterback job.
Treister was sharp during the full-squad portion of the scrimmage. He completed 9 of 11 passes for 84 yards and a TD.
Smith completed 9 of 13 throws good for 60 yards.
“The quarterback evaluation is going to come down to scrimmages, which weigh more in the coaches’ minds than just a regular practice,” Treister explained. “You’re put in various situations where you have to respond to those situations in a live (scenario).”
Hood and offensive linemen Doug Nash both were recognized for their efforts in quick-change situations. The offensive players were forced to become defenders after interceptions by the defense later in the practice.
Hood and backup quarterback John Ebeling chased down freshman defensive back Malik Walker and forced him to fumble, preventing Walker from taking an interception all the way to the end zone.
Roberts nearly was able to track down Sherrod Baltimore, but just missed on the speedy cornerback’s 50-plus-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“Those are the effort type of things that you’ve got to have to be good at this game,” Cosgrove said.
“They came out ready to go, with good energy,” he added. “I saw a bunch of guys that love to play football running around doing exactly that. I was pleased with the effort they put forward.”
Senior inside linebacker Vinson Givans threw his weight around early in the scrimmage. He had a tackle for a loss and a pass breakup during one early sequence.
He said the Bears demonstrated plenty of enthusiasm and hard work Monday.
“We want to be great, we’re taking steps. It takes time,” said Givans, whose presence on the defense is a key with classmate Donte Dennis sidelined while recovering from offseason elbow surgery.
“The first scrimmage, there’s a lot of things we need to work on, but we showed a lot of signs of good effort, good hustle,” Givans added.
Defensive lineman Erwin Roach caught his coaches’ eye with some big plays. The junior racked up four tackles, including three sacks, on consecutive plays covering two series.
“This is the first time we get to really show what we have, so a lot of freshmen came in with the mentality to try to work hard, do everything they can,” Roach said. “I’m just working to get better every day.”
UMaine opens its season Sept. 3 with a home game against Bryant University.
Seven CAA football teams in top 25
William & Mary, the preseason favorite to win the Colonial Athletic Association football title in 2011, headlines a list of seven conference schools voted in the Preseason Sports Network/Fathead.com Top 25 released Monday.
William & Mary (20 first-place votes) was picked to finish third behind No. 1Eastern Washington (90) and No. 2 Appalachian State (14).
Delaware (2) and New Hampshire (1) of the CAA cracked the top 10 at Nos. 5 and 10, respectively, followed by No. 14 Villanova (2), No. 15 James Madison and No. 16 Richmond. Massachusetts finished off the top 25 at No. 25, while Rhode Island, Maine and Old Dominion received votes in the poll.