Monday was a day off for the University of Maine football team but by 10 a.m. Black Bears Coach Jack Cosgrove and his staff were breaking down film of their next opponent.

The film session came less than 36 hours after Maine upset then-No. 6 Delaware 31-17 Saturday at Alfond Stadium and only a few hours before Maine learned it had re-entered the national rankings for the first time in more than two years.

The Black Bears face James Madison at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and will head to Harrisonburg, Va., as the No. 19 team in this week’s top 25 poll. It’s the first time Maine has been ranked since Sept. 14, 2009, when it was 19th.

The ranking is exciting for UMaine, but it’s not something Cosgrove and his team worry about.

“We have no control over things, other than what we do every week,” Cosgrove said in Monday’s CAA teleconference. “Whatever happens along the way is immaterial to what we can control. It’s what we can do Saturday. We have a long trip in front of us in playing James Madison.”

Maine is one of eight Colonial Athletic Association teams ranked in this week’s poll, joining No. 6 New Hampshire, No. 7 James Madison, No. 9 William & Mary, No. 13 Delaware, No. 14 Richmond, No. 21 Old Dominion and No. 25 Towson.

James Madison Coach Mickey Matthews emphasized not only the perennial strength of the conference, but also the depth.

“The strength of our league are the teams that finish five through nine, and all those teams are really good,” Matthews said. “You could take five to six teams out of the league to the playoffs and it wouldn’t be a stretch in how good they are.”

One of the keys in the win over Delaware was the running game. Maine tailback Pushaun Brown was honored as the CAA Offensive Player of the Week for rushing for 193 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns, and his ground totals were more than 90 percent of Maine’s total rushing yards (213).

But in preparation for Saturday’s conference game at James Madison, Cosgrove said there’s still areas for improvement, notably in the punting and kicking performances against Delaware.

Maine punter Jordan Waxman averaged 32.5 yards on four punts, including two that were downed inside Maine’s 40-yard line, setting up short fields for the Blue Hens.

“There’s a lot of things we need to do better,” Cosgrove said. “There are different parts of the game we really need to work on. I don’t think we kicked the ball better, and that could hurt us position-wise.

“In each game, you come away from it with satisfaction with the win. But it’s not as good as you think, and it’s not as bad as you think.”

Matthews, who began reviewing tape on the Black Bears, had this to say about how well Maine played last week:

“(Maine) dominated Delaware,” Matthews said, “and I don’t know the last time I’ve seen Delaware dominated that much in a game.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be contacted at 791-6415 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: rlenzi


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