ORONO, Maine — Jack Cosgrove has been asked the question so many times in the last several years that it neither fazes nor irritates him.
The University of Maine’s head football coach and his staff are again watching and waiting to determine who will lead the Black Bears offense onto the field for their Sept. 5 season opener at Boston College.
For the second year in a row, junior Dan Collins and sophomore Drew Belcher are competing to win the starting job.
Their respective efforts during Tuesday’s second and final preseason scrimmage did not appear to have expedited the coaches’ decision.
“There’s no decision being made walking off the field,” Cosgrove said after the session, conceding that neither has separated himself in terms of his performance.
“We’ve got to watch the tape and evaluate that and see the things that push you to make a decision,” he added. “It’s made at our rate, their rate. When somebody reaches up and grabs that, we’ll know that and make that call.”
Belcher and Collins experienced plenty of struggles as they alternated working with both the starters and backups.
Belcher completed 7 of 17 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown, while Collins went 7-for-25 for 65 yards. Neither was intercepted, but both were “sacked” in the face of steady pressure from UMaine’s front seven.
“I was disappointed with my performance,” Collins said. “I feel like some of the throws I definitely should have made, my feet weren’t underneath me. I didn’t think I did well out here, but at the same time I’m going to come back here after I see this film and get back to work in practice.”
Belcher, who fired a 21-yard TD strike to wide receiver Justin Flores early in the scrimmage, also was unsatisfied.
“The biggest thing was mental stuff,” he said. “We had a lot of penalties, maybe some drops and missed reads by me, and other stuff that hurt us, but it’s easily fixable stuff, so that’s the encouraging part.”
Last season, Collins got the nod only two days prior to UMaine’s opener. The Bears went 2-4 in his six starts before he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Game 6 at Stony Brook.
Belcher, who had earned playing time in four of those contests, led UMaine to a 3-2 finish, including consecutive victories against Rhode Island, No. 8 Richmond and Elon.
With both having shown potential and Collins recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, the two quarterbacks are again trying to earn the trust of their coaches and teammates.
“We’re battling it out just like last year. It’s pretty much the same thing,” Collins said on Tuesday.
“We’re just progressing, trying to see who’s going to play that first game,” he added.
Belcher realizes that his play during training camp likely will be what determines whether he’s starting or standing on the sideline to open the season. This time around, he is much more confident.
“Last year I’m coming in and learning things on the run. Now I have complete comfort with the playbook and I don’t have to worry about that,” Belcher said. “I can just focus on the defense and making my calls. That definitely is a major difference from last year.”
In 2014, Collins completed 77 of 143 passes for 908 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions. Belcher went 77-for-152 with 740 yards, three TDs and three INTs and rushed for 312 yards and two scores.
Cosgrove said this year’s QB dynamic is different from last season, when Belcher and Collins lacked game experience as they pushed each other while trying to earn playing time.
“I think we’re in a different type of conversation now, one that doesn’t involved experience but who’s better,” Cosgrove said. “If one guy doesn’t surface in a hurry here, we’ll do what’s best for the football team.”