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Wednesday September 21, 2011 | 03:48 PM

ORONO — Justin Perillo was never regarded as a backup or a substitution. And when teammate Derek Buttles suffered a leg injury early in Maine's 31-15 win Saturday at Albany, Perillo didn't harbor any fears of filling in at a high-profile position.

Instead, at tight end, Perillo went out and completed the task at hand.

"I had big shoes to fill, and Derek Buttles is a great player," said Perillo, a redshirt sophomore from Wilmington, Del. "But I just went out there and performed. It's never good to see one of your teammates go down, especially a guy like Derek Buttles."

For Perillo, it was meaningful to step in and contribute, as he scored a touchdown and caught six passes for 57 yards.

"I got make some plays and give our team its best chance to win," Perillo said.

The Black Bears have a bye week this week before facing Delaware, the FCS national runner up last year, next Saturday at Alfond Stadium. Part of the key to the bye week is to get players rested and refreshed, as well as healing injuries, though part of the dilemma Maine has faced in its last two games is that against Pitt, its defense was stretched thin and, as Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove said, "banged up" and against Albany, that was the case for the offense.

"Over-rep guys or play inexperienced guys, those are things you don't want to do," Cosgrove said. "When you put a guy on the field, you don't want him to be unprepared. "

Thus the need for players to prepare to the point where they can step into the lineup on a moment's notice and pick up where a starter left off … which is where a player like Perillo can step in - and a testament to Maine's emphasis on developing depth.

"Justin wasn't a guy who you never heard about or who surprised you," Cosgrove said. "There was an expectation for him. He's a guy, who, we've pushed him to do more. But the best thing was, he went in and took on the burden of playing both his spot and playing at Derek's spot."

***

Cosgrove said that nose tackle Ryan Nani (elbow) is not expected to play next weekend against Delaware, while Buttles is tentative for next week's CAA opener. Tailback Pushaun Brown, who suffered some bumps and bruises against Albany, will be limited in practice this week. All players will continue to be evaluated.

***

One non-football note from today. Maine Athletic Director Steve Abbott said this afternoon that Maureen Barron has been named the interim softball coach, taking over for Deb Smith, who resigned Sept. 9.

Barron pitched at Princeton and helped the Tigers reach the Women's College World Series in 1995 and 1996, then was Princeton's head coach from 2001 to 2007, where she took the Tigers to four Women's College World Series and was 196-149-1.

Barron, the wife of women's basketball coach Richard Barron, will oversee fall practices and administrative duties while Maine begins searching for a new softball coach, a search that Abbott expects to take four to eight weeks.

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