It’s still early, but Maine’s college football teams remain winless heading into Week 3 of the 2012 season.
The University of Maine heads on the road for the second-straight week, while Husson University of Bangor and Maine Maritime Academy of Castine both play home games in Saturday’s games involving in-state programs.
Maine Black Bears (0-1) at Bryant Bulldogs (0-2), 1 p.m., Bulldog Stadium, Smithfield, R.I.: On paper, this game should represent a mismatch similar to the one UMaine, now ranked No. 21 in the Football Championship Subdivision Coaches Poll, faced a week ago at Boston College. This time, the Bears should have the upper hand.
After a respectable outing in a 34-3 loss to BC, UMaine hopes to iron out some of the wrinkles and flex its muscle a bit.
The key dynamic in this one is likely to be UMaine’s offense against the Bryant defense. The Bulldogs, who compete in the reduced-scholarship Northeast Conference, have been far too forgiving against the run thus far.
Bryant has surrendered 290 yards per game on the ground and 447 yards per contest overall in their first two contests. That could be a bad omen against a UMaine offense that features a veteran offensive front led by seniors Chris Howley, Josh Spearing of Limington and Garet Williamson.
The Bears’ top running threat is sophomore tailback David Hood (21 carries, 64 yards). If they can get him in a good groove, junior quarterback Marcus Wasilewski should be more comfortable in the passing attack. Among his veteran targets are senior wide receiver Maurice McDonald (6 receptions, 37 yards) and junior tight end Justin Perillo (4-25).
“We have to be a comprehensive offensive football team,” Cosgrove said. “We have to be good in third-down situations [the Bears were 3-for-18 last week], have good ball security and we have to be good in two-minute [drill].”
Cosgrove expects to see improved focus and execution, especially after the offense had some turnovers, penalties and dropped balls at BC.
“We’re asking our guys to improve, to focus on doing their jobs and not allowing themselves to stray away from the discipline that that requires,” he said.
The Bulldogs are paced on defense by free safety Max Machado (20 tackles), linebacker Colin Sullivan (14) and end Jeff Covitz (13 tackles, 4 for a loss).
The UMaine defense, which brought several new starters into the mix for its opener, encounters a Bryant unit that is balanced, but features a top-notch tailback in Jordan Brown.
The 5-foot-9-inch, 190-pound senior has accounted for 84 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry working behind a revamped offensive line. Brown needs 92 yards to become Bryant’s all-time leading rusher with 3,521 and is one rushing TD shy of the career mark of 36.
“He’s a guy that led the FCS, the whole shebang, last year in rushing,” Cosgrove said. “He is certainly a guy that has our attention.”
The Bulldogs also rely on quarterback Mike Westerhaus (29-for-63, 340 yards, 2 TDs, 3 interceptions), along with wideout Jordan Harris (7 receptions, 114 yards, 1 TD).
They’re opposed by a UMaine defense that is led by senior linebacker Donte Dennis (13 tackles), senior cornerback Darlos James (6) and junior end Mike Cole (5 tackles, 2 sacks).
BEAR TRACKS … The Bears have been fortunate to avoid many injuries thus far, although sophomore defensive tackle Matt Pellerin of Turner remains sidelined by a knee strain. Junior tailback Terrel Walker is awaiting anterior cruciate ligament knee surgery and will miss the entire season.
Anna Maria AMcats (1-1) at Husson Eagles (0-2), 1 p.m., Winkin Complex, Bangor: The Eagles gear up for a third-straight home game to open the season, but are still searching for a victory as they open the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference schedule.
Husson is coming off a 36-2 loss to Springfield, while Anna Maria of Paxton, Mass., handled Maine Maritime Academy 34-14 last weekend.
The Eagles are trying to shore up their defense, having surrendered 466.5 yards and 45.5 points per game. Opponents have netted 307 ypg via the run.
Linebacker Stephan Dance (25 tackles) and end Ernest Wiggins (15 tackles, 3.5 sacks) are Husson’s impact defensive stars.
The Eagles have been anemic offensively, managing only 141.5 yards and 8.0 points per outing. Husson has been ineffective running the ball (20.5 ypg). Kash Keezer of Orono has completed 21 of 47 throws for 242 yards (2 TDs, 6 INTs), with Ben Foss of Oakland making six grabs for 125 yards and two scores.
Anna Maria has racked up 205 rushing yards per game behind Robert Small (35 carries, 210 yards, 2 TDs).
Plymouth State Panthers (0-2) at Maine Maritime Academy Mariners (0-1), noon, Ritchie Field, Castine: MMA makes its home debut looking to snap a five-game losing streak dating back to last season.
The Mariners churned out 248 rushing yards behind fullback Bill Wetherbee of Veazie (23 carries, 110 yards), but are trying to break in a new option quarterback between Brad Reed of Belfast (20-67) and Mike Fahey (8-43-1). Neither completed a pass against Anna Maria.
Joel Chadbourne of Westbrook (10 tackles) and Mike Collins of Kittery (9) head up the defense, which gave up 260 rushing yards and 184 passing in their opener.