ORONO, Maine — Dan Collins had a rough Saturday morning.
The University of Maine’s sophomore quarterback was inconsistent, turned the ball over three times and absorbed numerous hard hits during the 10th Jeff Cole Scrimmage held on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium.
Collins, the heir apparent to graduated All-CAA quarterback Marcus Wasilewski, and the offense had their hands full against a defense led by junior end Trevor Bates of Westbrook and linebacker Cabrinni Goncalves.
“It’s a fast-paced tempo. You’ve got to get used to it early,” Collins said.
“You’ve got to expect those guys to come after you,” he added.
Collins, 6-foot-2, 205-pounder from Williamstown, N.J., completed only 10 of 27 passes for 160 yards. He threw for three touchdowns but also was intercepted three times.
Freshman backup quarterback Daniel Hoffer was intercepted twice, one of which was returned 30 yards for a touchdown by converted wide receiver Daniel Upson.
“Way too many turnovers; careless with the football. We can’t do the things they [the quarterbacks] did, not in the league we’re in,” said UMaine head coach Jack Cosgrove.
“We’ve got to get that fixed,” he continued. “We’ve got to have the right guy behind the center that knows the importance of that, ball security and taking care of the football. That’s really the most important thing that they’ve got to do.”
Collins was operating behind a reconfigured offensive line that lost three starters to graduation and was without two other potential starters because of injuries.
He carried the ball 13 times for 43 yards, was sacked twice and fumbled twice, one of which was recovered by the defense.
“We did alright. I didn’t like the turnovers. We’ve got to keep the turnovers to a minimum,” Collins said. “We had a couple nice drives, though.”
Collins demonstrated his toughness, showing a willingness to put his head down when running the ball and standing in to make throws under pressure.
“He ran the ball well when he was in trouble, but I can’t get away from the turnovers,” Cosgrove said.
Bates, a hard-charging pass rusher, hopes the hard-nosed play of the defense will serve to help Collins make the transition from backup to starter.
“Absolutely not,” Bates said when asked whether he had any qualms about putting hard hits on his quarterback.
“That’s what it’s going to be like in the fall. There’s probably going to be a lot more pressure, too,” Bates said. “The more experience he gets now, the better he’ll be.”
The scrimmage, an annual tribute to former assistant coach Cole, who died of cancer in 1994, featured numerous different down-and-distance scenarios rather than sustained possessions.
Collins, who played exclusively with the first unit, hit fullback Jeremy Salmon with a 4-yard scoring toss early. It came one play after freshman safety Spencer Carey of Fairfield made the first of two interceptions.
Later, Collins hung in under pressure and completed a 37-yard pass to Salmon, before the duo hooked up on a 24-yard touchdown pass. Collins also fired a 19-yard scoring toss to senior wideout Damarr Aultman and scrambled for a 20-yard gain.
Aultman said the receivers will continue to work with Collins over the summer.
“In any relationship between the quarterback and the receiver, the summer’s a big time,” Aultman said. “We’re basically going to be living together, so every day we’re going to be throwing, no excuses; we’re going to be in film together.”
Goncalves and safety Patrick Pascal each recorded an interception for the defense, which afforded the running backs very little room to operate.
Bates has the utmost confidence that Collins will continue to make strides during the offseason.
“He’s doing a great job, too, he’s developing fast,” Bates said. “He’s comfortable out there, confident. He’s going to be good.”