Katley Joseph and Shaquille St-Lot of the University of Maine know opposing quarterbacks are going to test them every chance they get, now that preseason All-American corner Manny Patterson is out for the season with a knee injury.
But the sophomore cornerbacks will be ready.
They duo already passed the first test in Saturday’s 47-31 victory at Albany. Joseph made a team- and career-high nine tackles with two pass breakups, and St-Lot posted a team-best four pass breakups and was involved in three tackles.
Patterson was hurt in the first half of the game.
“They will definitely pick on us,” said St-Lot, a 6-foot, 195-pound native of Montreal. “But with practice and preparation, we’ll be ready. We’ve been in that position before.”
“That’s nothing new to us,” said Joseph, a 5-11, 175-pounder from Ottawa, Ontario. “We held it down for the most part in the [Albany] game. Our confidence is building going into the Elon game [on Saturday].”
St-Lot said it will be important for him to elevate his game and earn the trust of his coaches.
“I have to be confident in my technique and play at a fast level,” St-Lot said.
Joseph said preparation and confidence are two of the biggest keys.
“Our teammates are going to rely on us to make plays on the deep balls. We have to step up at crucial times,” Joseph said.
UMaine head coach Nick Charlton was impressed by the players’ physicality in the Albany game.
“They’re quick and athletic, and both play pretty well in [pressure] coverage,” he said.
Joseph goes into Saturday’s game at Elon (North Carolina) with 29 tackles and three pass breakups while St-Lot has been involved in 17 tackles and a team-leading 10 pass breakups.
Last season, Joseph’s 12 pass breakups ranked second on the team behind Patterson (22). He also made an interception.
In 12 games, St-Lot made five breakups and a fumble recovery.
Both think they have improved.
“Katley and I worked out together every day in the offseason up here, and our technique has gotten way better,” St-Lot said.
They admit having learned a lot from Patterson.
“[We] watch him and see how he does things and work that into our game to make us better,’ St-Lot added.
Joseph and St-Lot are two of six Canadians on the UMaine roster, and they said that is a source of pride for them.
“We want to prove to other Canadian kids that they can make it to Division I,” St-Lot said. “We try to have fun with it. We’re grateful. Not everybody out there has the opportunity to do what we’re doing.”
“A lot of people don’t think Canadians can play in this league [Colonial Athletic Association], but we’re trying to change that narrative,” Joseph said.
Charlton said the young men are proud Canadians.
“They speak a lot of French to each other. They’re good guys,” Charlton said.
Both said it took a little time to adapt to rural Maine, but they have gotten used to it and now it is like home to them.
Their goal is to keep playing well and improving and help the team win its third straight game at Elon.