ORONO — Cody Levy and Chris Mulvey know they will have to take on leadership roles for the University of Maine football team next season.
The area where UMaine was hurt the most by graduation was in the offensive line with longtime starters Isaiah Brooks, John Reddington and All-American Jamil Demby all leaving along with Dan Burrows, who also saw a lot of action during his career.
Tackle Levy and center Mulvey, both from Poughkeepsie, New York, are the only returning starters up front. They will be surrounded by first-time starters this fall.
But the offensive line, which had only five available players due to injuries and graduation, turned in an impressive showing against a veteran defensive unit during the 14th annual Jeff Cole Memorial Spring Scrimmage at Alfond Stadium on Friday.
In addition to Levy and Mulvey, the other offensive linemen were sophomore guard Robert Smoloski, redshirt freshman guard Archie Callahan and freshman tackle Tyler Royal.
Sophomores Gunnar Docos and Liam Dobson were unavailable due to injury.
“Our offensive line die a real good job,” said UMaine head coach Joe Harasymiak. “A lot of our young guys got a lot of quality reps and they moved the ball.
The offense emerged with a 38-35 win over the defense. The offense ran 44 plays.
The offense received six points for a touchdown, three points apiece for a run of at least 15 yards and a pass of at least 25 yards and one point for a first down. The defense got six points for a turnover, three for a negative-yardage play and one if they forced a punt or a field-goal attempt.
Quarterback Chris Ferguson, who started as a redshirt freshman last season, and redshirt freshman Isaiah Robinson each threw touchdown passes and had some long completions. The offense also received solid runs from rising junior-to-be Joe Fitzpatrick of North Yarmouth and redshirt freshman Ramon Jefferson.
“It was the best day of the spring. It was very positive,” said first-year offensive coordinator Nick Charlton. “We scored a lot of points. It was nice to see us finish in the red zone. I was very pleased with our progress today.”
“It’s a great group for the toughness aspect and that’s what you need on the offensive line,” Harasymiak said of the line group.
“They’ve gotten a lot better since last year,” observed junior linebacker Taji Lowe, who was one of the defensive standouts in the scrimmage. “Even though we lost a lot of offensive linemen, they people stepping in are doing a great job.”
Harasymiak pointed out that in addition to the seven they have, there are five scholarship offensive linemen coming in and they hope to add a few more.
“Hopefully, we’ll have 15 to 16 offensive linemen coming into camp (in August),” Harasymiak said.
Levy and Mulvey were both satisfied with the scrimmage and are embracing the challenge ahead.
“We moved the ball well and got into the end zone, had fun. It was a good day,” said the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Levy, who is moving from right tackle to fill the left tackle spot vacated by Los Angeles Rams sixth-round draft pick Demby.
Left tackle is a critical position because he protects the blind side of a right-handed quarterback.
Demby attended the game as he is finishing up his schoolwork.
“We were very successful,” said the 6-3, 291-pound Mulvey. “We ran the ball decent and we threw the ball very well.”
Levy said he intends to “try to set an example for the younger guys. But the younger guys have a lot of talent.
“(Pat) Denecke is a great coach. He’s teaching us all the right things. We’re going to figure it all out,” added Levy, who has 25 career games under his belt.
Mulvey, who started nine of UMaine’s 10 games last season, said the young linemen are playing tough.
“They’re being physical, they’re moving guys. It’s looking pretty good.”
Mulvey knows what the youngsters are going through.
“I was the younger guy last year up front. I had seniors all around me to help me out. We’ve got younger guys coming up and it us up to us older guys to help them out.”
Ferguson was impressed with his line.
“They all did great today. I’m really proud of them,” he said.
UMaine opens the season when it hosts New Hampshire on Thursday night, Aug. 30.