ORONO — If you want to find Cabrinni Goncalves during Saturday’s Maine football game at Richmond, where should you look? “On the field, running around,” the senior said.

If that sounds simple, it’s far from it. Goncalves was the starting tailback in the first game, and back at his familiar outside linebacker position the past two.

This week, he’ll be practicing both positions again as Maine will be minus backup tailback Darian Davis-Ray with an ankle injury. Sacoy Malone will rise to second on the depth chart behind starter Nigel Beckford. Goncalves will be the third option.

“We’re going to do what we have to do Saturday,” Coach Jack Cosgrove said. “(Goncalves) knows how he’s going to practice, he just doesn’t know where he’s going to play yet.”

Goncalves came to Maine five years ago as a scrawny 170-pound running back out of Taunton, Massachusetts. But he also played defense in high school, primarily cornerback.

So, after a redshirt season, Maine’s coaches moved Goncalves to safety for a year, and then turned him loose at a “rover” linebacker spot that has him blitzing at times, covering wide receivers in the slot at others, wreaking havoc as often as possible. The past two seasons, Goncalves made 175 tackles, 21.5 of them for loss, and had 11 pass breakups and three interceptions.

Still, when Cosgrove sensed a need for help at running back this summer, Goncalves was the first name he thought of.

The player had been planting the seed all along.

“Ever since I’ve been on the Black Hole (Maine’s defensive nickname), I’ve been telling Coach, ‘let me get a few carries a game,’ joking with him, but at the same time I’m serious,” Goncalves said. “I just kept bugging him about it, and it was something that ended up happening.”

It was more than just Goncalves’ chirping. First, there was his size, up to 220 pounds now without sacrificing speed.

Then, Maine lost tailbacks Isaiah Jones and Nigel Jones to injury. Jerickson Fedrick opted to transfer. Beckford and Davis-Ray, roommates, got into trouble over the winter and had to sit out the season opener at Boston College. Incoming freshmen Terry Loper and Jonathan Castellano left the team.

The situation was critical.

“There’s something about the running back position this year that is being challenged,” Cosgrove said. “I targeted Cabrinni because he’s a fifth-year senior. He’s got football instincts, passion, those kinds of things that I think you have to have to play both ways. And he’s his own worst critic, which is a good thing.”

Goncalves ran 10 times for 29 yards in a 24-3 loss at BC. With Beckford and Davis-Ray back from suspension, and starting middle linebacker Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga out the past two weeks with a leg injury, Goncalves played exclusively at linebacker, picking up six tackles and one key pass breakup late in Maine’s 27-17 win Saturday against Rhode Island.

Goncalves backpedaled toward the sideline and stretched his 6-foot frame to its limit to bat the ball from an open receiver.

This Saturday, who knows? Cosgrove may make good on his weekly promise to play Goncalves both ways.

To that end, Goncalves will sit in on the defensive meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, but also meet for a private session with running backs coach Roosevelt Boone. He’ll practice with his Black Hole brethren wearing his white jersey, then slip the blue one on and join the offense.

It makes for some exhausting afternoons. And Goncalves couldn’t be more exhilarated.

“It was something I was eager to learn, so I put my pride into it and it came faster than I thought it would,” he said of picking up the offense.

“In practice, I’m always doing something. That’s how I like it. It gets me in shape. I get a little tired, but I know me getting tired at practice is going to make the games much easier.”