The University of Maine football team has been divided up via a draft, and the structure has been set for Saturday’s 15th annual Jeff Cole Memorial Spring Game.
The game, which begins at noon Saturday at Alfond Stadium in Orono, is named after the late UMaine football assistant coach who died of cancer in 2004.
For the first time in several years, it will be an actual Blue-White game instead of a scrimmage between the offense and the defense.
The coaching staff has also been split up with six on each roster.
The game will include two 12-minute quarters in the first half and the second half will feature two 12-minute quarters played in running time.
Regulation games consist of four 15-minute quarters.
The offense vs. defense format, under which teams were awarded points based on accomplishments, had been implemented primarily due to a lack of personnel.
“We wanted to create a game-like atmosphere. We want to see which of the younger guys are going to step up,” head coach Nick Charlton said. “This will be the first time some of them have been a part of [a game at UMaine]. And it’s always exciting for the older players, too.”
The Black Bears are thin at a number of positions, so some players will compete for both teams at those positions. Sophomore Chris Mulvey will be the center for both teams.
Sophomore starting quarterback Chris Ferguson and redshirt freshman backups Ryan Walsh and Grant Hartley also will play for both teams, as will safeties Joshua Huffman, Richard Carr, Isaiah Gaynor and Erick Robertson.
Carr and Gaynor are freshmen, Robertson is a sophomore and Huffman is a senior.
Charlton said the special teams also will be involved, and they might implement some situational work such as the red zone (inside the 20-yard line).
Several players won’t be available because they are nursing injuries. That list includes defensive linemen Charles Mitchell and Garrett Graham; linebackers Jaron Grayer and Owen Elliott; offensive linemen Migel Garcia and Mike Gerace; tight end Mike Laverriere, wide receiver Earnest Edwards, running back Joe Fitzpatrick and kicker Kenny Doak.
Charlton said all are expected to be able to play in the fall.
The backup quarterbacks will be closely scrutinized because last season’s backup, Isaiah Robinson, transferred to Hampton University in Virginia.
“Quarterbacks are always closely monitored,” Charlton said. “We want to see them keep [improving].”
Walsh has the inside track as the back-up, according to Charlton. Walsh appeared in two games a year ago while Auburn’s Hartley did not play.
“Ryan’s closer right now. We put him in with the [first team] the other day and he did some nice things,” Charlton said.
Before the game, fans will have a chance to take photos with last year’s trophies, including the Brice-Cowell Musket, the spoils of the win over archrival New Hampshire, along with the CAA championship and the NCAA national semifinal trophies.
Following the game, the coaches will head back on the recruiting trail. Charlton said UMaine may still bring in two to four more players for the 2019 season, including transfers.