Saturday, March 8, 2014
The Maine football team established a few good foundations in Saturday's 28-13 win over Bryant - no turnovers, two penalties and an offense that took control in the opening minutes of the first half. But before Maine faces Pitt at 1 p.m. Saturday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Black Bears Coach Jack Cosgrove said the season-opening win provided the Black Bears a few lessons, notably in maintaining the intensity through the course of a game.
"It's something that's going to be emphasized over the next few days," Cosgrove said.
Likewise, Pitt had a similar experience in Saturday's 35-16 win over Buffalo - but in reverse. The Panthers led only 7-0 after the first half but, sparked by defensive tackle Chas Alecxih's key third-quarter interception, Pitt's "high-octane" offense came to life, scoring on each of its possessions in the second half. The Panthers finished with 410 yards of offense (including 231 rushing, 201 coming from running back Ray Graham) but its defense surrendered 276 passing yards to the Bulls.
"We had a great night to get a lot of teaching opportunities," first-year Pitt Coach Todd Graham said in Monday's Big East teleconference. "Until you get out there and play a game, you don't know where you're at. You have to make the big jump between week one and week two. We have to get better fundamentally and continue to improve every week."
(Then again, don't all football teams after the first week of the season? Strictly a rhetorical question ...)
Pitt hosts Maine in an FCS-FBS matchup, games that might typically be regarded as glorified opportunities for some teams to get pushed around for a paycheck. Yet Graham said that the challenge that comes not just against FCS teams but week to week is to find a way to win.
"We look at it as, any opponent that comes in, they have a chance to make this a signature win," Graham said.
And, he added, "If you're not humble, you'll get humbled."
"They're a very well-coached football team," Graham said of Maine. "The strength of their team is the offense of their quarterback (Warren Smith) and tailback (Pushawn Brown), who operate very, very efficiently."
Maine athletic director Steve Abbott said Maine will receive a $375,000 payout for Saturday's game.
Annabelle Hamilton, a back on the Maine field hockey team, has been named America East Rookie of the Week.
Hamilton, a freshman from North Vancouver, B.C., scored the game-winning goal in overtime against No. 10 Boston College last week, then scored two goals Sunday in Maine's 7-3 win over Bryant. Hamilton has six points for the Black Beras, which plays Dartmouth at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The Black Bears received 98 votes in this week's NFHCA Division I Top 20 coaches poll.