It may sound weird to say at this time of year, but football season is finally right around the corner. The University of Maine football team is just over a month away from kicking off their spring season, where they will face off against the University of Delaware on March 6. The season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and intensive protocols will still need to take place in order to maintain a safe and productive team. As UMaine heads into an unprecedented six game spring schedule, the team will seek to improve on their 2019 season and build toward the upcoming fall season.
This spring’s roster is going to look almost entirely new compared to just a year ago as the Black Bears have brought in 37 new players. Some of the new players were welcomed to the team via transfer, as head coach Nick Charlton values that experience. Charlton has recruited players from the likes of Rutgers, UConn, BYU and Temple to join the UMaine team. Due to social distancing restrictions, teams across the country have found it difficult to build chemistry due to a lack of personal time with one another, however, third-year wide receiver and communications major Zavier Scott, believes their season off has actually helped the team build chemistry.
“Having the whole 2020 fall to be able to work out together and get to know each other will have benefited us more than negatively impacted us,” Scott, told the Maine Campus.
With so many new faces to get up to speed with the program, the extra time could have benefited the Black Bears substantially. Scott also noted that the team made the most of the time that they had, despite COVID-19 restrictions.
“The team did not have any setbacks with COVID-19 cases… we made the most of it as a team,” Scott said. “I’m confident it will show on the field this spring.”
Scott’s words come as welcome news for anyone who was concerned about the ability for the team to take to the field with one another during the “off-season.”
One of the most exciting returning players this spring is fourth-year linebacker Deshawn Stevens, who is coming off of an Achilles tendon rupture. He is expected to lead the defense in the tackle department and could make a push for the NFL as he has totaled 162 tackles in his previous 18 games played. With former quarterback Chris Ferguson transferring to Liberty, all eyes are on second-year quarterback Joe Fagnano to lead the offense. Last we saw him play in 2019, he put up an impressive 17-3 touchdown to interception ratio. One of his favorite and most dependent targets, third-year Devin Young, should help to lead the passing game. The biggest recruiting headline for the Black Bears was the commitment of wide receiver Montigo Moss. The first-year is indeed the son of NFL Hall of Famer Randy Moss and will for sure bring added hype to the squad for the upcoming years. With so many new faces, it will be a waiting game to see who emerges for Maine on both sides of the ball.
In 2019, UMaine football finished with a 6-6 record, in what was an up-and-down year. A unique statistic coming out of that season was that the Black Bears scored roughly 29 points per game and also gave up 29 points per game. The team aims to improve on their discipline, as they committed almost double the penalties as their opponents in 2019. If they can maintain a high-powered offense and get the new players up to speed, they will be a hard team to beat and should qualify for the playoffs. The shortened season should provide a springboard for the fall 2021 season, which will hopefully be a full slate of games complete with fans in the stadium. This six-game season, though abbreviated, will help the team build on their chemistry, and if the season is anything like 2019, UMaine fans are in for another slate of high-scoring, exciting games.