There was no need for Dan Collins to come back on the field. Except that Maine’s junior quarterback still feels he has something to prove. Having the job, then sharing the job, then losing the job will do that to a football player.

So when Collins was sandwiched by two Boston College pass rushers late in a season opener that the Black Bears couldn’t win on Sept. 5, with one of them knocking him in the head and the other jarring the ball loose, he had just one thought as he spent an agonizing minute on the Alumni Stadium turf.

“There’s no way I was going down in that game,” said Collins, who will lead Maine (0-1) onto the field at 8 p.m. Saturday against Tulane (0-2). “I got hit like that. As soon as I realized I could walk, I’m getting up and jogging off the field. There’s no question about it. I was ready to go.”

Collins came back for Maine’s last drive in that 24-3 loss, backed up to his 1-yard line with 3 minutes remaining. His statistics were subpar – 12 of 29 passing for 84 yards and an interception – but he showed Coach Jack Cosgrove why he was given the job two days before the season opener, after a summer battling sophomore Drew Belcher.

“I just felt like, as close as it was, he did some things better just overall. I felt like he played better and deserved it just based on that,” Cosgrove said of Collins.

“I thought he was as tough as anybody on our team (against Boston College), hanging in there and trying to make the throws.”


Collins won the quarterback job a year ago but got off to a slow start, as the Black Bears scored only 20 points while splitting games against Norfolk State and Bryant.

By the third game, a 40-10 loss at Boston College, Belcher, then a true freshman, was splitting time with Collins. Three games later, Collins’ season ended with a shoulder injury in a loss at Stony Brook and Belcher took over.

When summer camp began, Collins was fully healed but back to square one. He outperformed Belcher in the team’s first scrimmage, but was out of sorts in the second scrimmage while Belcher looked sharp on his first drive.

On Sept. 3, after a team walk-through, Collins got the word he wanted to hear – the starting job was his.

“Drew’s a great quarterback. We’re both team leaders and the team definitely looks up to us both. It was a hard decision for the coaches to make just because we were back and forth battling,” Collins said.

“As soon as they told me, that light bulb switched on in my head and I’m like, ‘OK, it’s game time now and I know I’m the guy and I’m getting the role,’ so I went out there and tried to play my hardest.”


Cosgrove said the quarterback job is Collins’ to hold on to. His decision to send him back into the BC loss seemed to reinforce that.

Collins said he’s taking nothing for granted.

“At this level, every day is a competition. I’ve got to go out there and do my job, or else your job gets taken,” he said.

“It’s the quarterback position; there’s pressure anyway. You play the biggest pressure position in all of sports, that’s what they say. It’s not more pressure on me, I try to do everything as I would do it from any position.”

Tulane is another FBS test for Collins and a Black Bear offense that gets starting tailback Nigel Beckford back from suspension. The Green Wave are struggling, having been outscored 102-17 in losses to Duke and Georgia Tech. They feature an aggressive defensive front and play man-to-man coverage, like Boston College, but not nearly as effectively.

Cosgrove said his message to Collins has been simple – just get first downs. Last year, Collins was criticized at times for trying to make big plays downfield even if the Black Bears needed only 6 yards on a third down.

He said he’s learned his lesson.

“I’m definitely in the mindset of ‘move the chains’ this year. Last year, it’s behind me,” Collins said. “Last year’s film is like a bunch of what ifs, but this year I can’t be like that. It’s got to be third-and-6 and we’re going to get the 7 yards and move the chains. And that’s what’s going to happen.”


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