ORONO – Trevor Coston reflects on all the things he could be doing this weekend.


Filling an empty refrigerator.

Catching up on sleep.

Traveling home to visit family.

But for Coston, a senior free safety on the University of Maine football team, this weekend’s open date on their 11-game schedule isn’t about taking advantage of free time. For Coston and the Black Bears, there is business to tend to: Recuperate from bumps and bruises, evaluate team progress and prepare for next Saturday’s Colonial Athletic Association opener against Delaware.

“We got some time to rest,” Coston said. “But we still have to go to practice with the same intensity, if not more. We don’t look at it as a bye week. We’ve still got to practice and stay focused, as we have for the past few weeks.”

Wednesday afternoon, Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove did some quick math. There already have been four weeks of preseason and three weeks of games and practices, and he deduced this much.

“I don’t think that I could have ordered a better time for us to have our bye,” Cosgrove said. “We get a chance, after a long bus ride (from Albany, N.Y.) to take some time off, get in the training room and heal up, and now we have to go back and get better. But there’s a bit more of a relaxed feel to this week, rather than getting ready for a game week. I would (have been) very concerned right now if we (had been) playing this Saturday.”

Scheduling a bye week, Cosgrove explained, is arbitrary. Maine leaves September open to schedule nonconference games, and the CAA traditionally schedules its conference games during the final eight weeks of the regular season. But the league will also make concessions for teams that have scheduling conflicts.

Of the 11 CAA teams, four already have had their bye week. Rhode Island’s bye week fell during the first week of the Division I-AA season, and the Rams opened the season Sept. 10 at Syracuse. Towson’s bye week came last week, and the Tigers host Colgate Saturday in a nonconference game.

“It’s all about perspective and how you look at it,” Tigers Coach Rob Ambrose said. “You can keep riding the wave, but any chance you have to catch your breath is a good thing.

“In the grand scheme of things, the middle of the road would be nicer but you take the time and you use it to your advantage.”

Even though it seems a little more low-key than other game weeks, the days leading up to a Saturday free of playing football collectively have a purpose for the Black Bears (2-1).

“The bye week pretty much is taking a look at what you’ve done in the past three games,” offensive lineman Steven Shea said, “to get Maine better and get Maine healthy. We’re focusing on our weaknesses and trying to get plays better, our techniques better and focusing on the little things.”

After last Saturday’s 31-15 win at Albany, the Black Bears returned to Orono at 7 a.m. Sunday, their trip slowed by mechanical issues on one of the charter buses. The players returned to the weight room Monday, then had meetings and film sessions Tuesday before practicing Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Alfond Stadium.

“This is the time we have to turn our focus up a little more,” senior tailback Pushaun Brown said. “We now have eight straight conference games, so we have to focus more.

“We think our conference is the best I-AA conference there is, so our focus has to have that much more intensity. I think the bye week fell at a perfect time so we can refocus ourselves.”

But is it a week for a player to exhale?

“We still have meetings, we still watch film on our own, we’re still scouting and we still have to practice, but we’re still focused on football,” Shea said.

“But you get to calm down and take it a notch down from a game week. But it still has the game-week mentality to it.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

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