Play the next.

That’s a phrase the University of Maine football team uses to quickly deliver the message: Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Get back at it.

Maine will look to do just that following a 3-0 loss against Albany in the season opener last week, a stunner that has placed significant emphasis on today’s 1 p.m. game at Monmouth.

“The scheme is there. We just have to execute,” said quarterback Warren Smith. “If we can execute we’ll be a strong football team. Play the next.”

Maine’s offense was plagued by poor execution, turnovers, dropped passes, untimely penalties and even lousy field position.

Smith had an uncharacteristic performance that started with an interception on his first pass, and was pulled in favor of Chris Treister at halftime. Maine never got within field goal distance.

“It’s like we were worrying about scoring points and weren’t focusing on taking it play by play,” said receiver Tyrell Jones. “We have to pay more attention to the details.

“Everything that went wrong was technique. It was like everybody was waiting for somebody else to make a big play.

“This week we won’t wait. We will all have to be that guy.”

Today there will be a focus on ball security and execution on the offensive side of the ball.

Maine’s coaching staff is also hoping to see a more confident unit on offense.

“We’ll look for some poise and confidence to develop on the field. We worked real hard in practice,” said Coach Jack Cosgrove.

Maine is 2-0 all time against Monmouth, the last meeting on Sept. 6, 2008, when Maine won 21-17 at Monmouth.

This Monmouth team pushed Colgate to the wire a week ago, losing 30-29 after rallying from a 30-16 deficit. The Hawks scored with 1:34 left, then failed to connect on a 2-point conversion for the win.

“I’m real impressed by their program. The offense really moved the ball well,” said Cosgrove. “They were lined up to beat Colgate.”

Maine performed well on defense in its opener, limiting Albany to three points and 246 total yards.

But today the Black Bears will be facing a hard-nosed team that runs and passes well.

“They’re a very aggressive team,” said Maine fullback Jared Turcotte. “They fly around the ball. You can tell they don’t quit. They fight to the end.”

Cosgrove said he believes preparation for this week is better than last week.

“We almost felt like they were overfocused (for the opener). We set a really high bar this preseason and they met it,” he said. “They have to maintain poise and focus. It’s hard to do when your QB is tightly wound.

“We’re optimistic. The big thing will be going on the road (today) and doing it when it counts.” 

NOTES: Turcotte is expected to be play after suffering a hip injury in the opener. Smith is from Forked River, N.J. which is 30 minutes from the Monmouth campus in West Long Branch. Maine has Syracuse on tap next week for its final nonconference game. 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: [email protected]