Jack Cosgrove has gotten tired of seeing teams picking on his secondary. The University of Maine coach hopes his players have grown weary of it as well.

The Black Bears gave up 176 passing yards in the second half of a victory over Rhode Island two weeks ago, and were burned for 319 yards in a blowout loss at Richmond last week.

Defending the pass will be a point of emphasis when Maine (1-3, 1-1 Colonial Athletic Association) visits Albany (2-3, 1-1) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

“When (opposing quarterbacks) recognize one-on-one situations, they just put the ball up in the air. And we’ve been outjumped or outplayed for the ball,” Cosgrove said. “They’re almost unsound to put the ball up in the air in a one-on-one like that because it’s a 50-50 ball. It could go the other way. And that’s what we’re trying to tell our players – that ball is your ball.”

The biggest problem for Maine has been breaking in newcomers at safety, with starter Darrius Hart and key reserve Mozai Nelson both lost for the season because of injuries. Jason Matovu and Sinmisola Demuren are the starters, with Spencer Carey and Jeffrey DeVaughn the backups. All are seeing action for the first time this season.

Demuren was beaten twice for touchdowns against Richmond on “double moves,” when the wide receiver took a step to the corner of the end zone but headed for the post instead, then did the opposite the next time.

None of this is sitting well with cornerback Sherrod Baltimore, the lone senior in the secondary.

“It’s embarrassing, honestly. Any time you lose it hurts, but 48 (points), it’s like, damn,” Baltimore said. “I don’t want to keep hearing that’s the moral of the story, we’re young. That’s not going to keep being the excuse. Ain’t no excuse when you lose. Nobody cares.”

Baltimore intercepted two passes against Rhode Island but dropped two potential picks at Richmond. So he’s blaming himself as much as anyone for what happened last week, when the Spiders threw for four touchdowns despite steady rain.

This week, he said the defensive backs made it a point to get into the film room earlier and to improve their communication. Cosgrove planned to conduct more drills where a receiver and a defensive back battle for a pass, particularly on “back shoulder” throws.

Baltimore wants to restore the safeties’ confidence.

“I was on them at first so it wouldn’t get to this point, where we had to lose, they had to catch passes on them,” he said. “I’m not saying losing is a good thing, but this could wake them up.”

It should help that Maine is unlikely to see a pair of wide receivers as good as Richmond’s the rest of the season. Albany suspended wideout Josh Gontarek, last year’s CAA rookie of the year, Sept. 30 after a marijuana arrest. The Great Danes then were skunked 37-0 at Holy Cross last Saturday. Sophomore Brad Harris and freshmen Jordan Crockett and Zee Roberson are the starting wide receivers.

“I don’t think anything’s working right now (in the passing game),” Albany Coach Greg Gattuso said. “People are loading up to stop our running game, and I don’t blame them. We’ve got to try to keep the defense at least honest a little bit, and we haven’t been able to do that because they don’t respect our passing game.”

Sophomore D.J. Crook is a first-year starter at quarterback for Albany.

Baltimore likes the matchup.

“We can get physical with them,” he said.

Opposite Baltimore at cornerback is sophomore Najee Goode, who inherited the No. 1 that Axel Ofori Jr. wore in past seasons. Goode got into 10 games last year as Ofori’s backup and is playing with much more confidence this season. Cosgrove sees a future star.

Goode sees passes that he should have intercepted. He has been credited with two pass breakups, but no picks. He relishes the chance to play press coverage and, like Baltimore, vowed that better days are ahead for his picked-upon unit.

“We’re going to see the same type routes (as against Richmond),” Goode said. “It’s going to give us another chance to redeem ourselves. It’s in everybody’s head for sure. We don’t want to be the reason why we lost. We want to stand out and be the reason why we win games.”