Liam Coen is already immortalized in the University of Maine football complex.

Sort of.

“There’s actually a picture of me in the facility getting knocked out,” Coen said Tuesday shortly after it was announced he was joining the Black Bears staff as offensive coordinator. “I got absolutely hammered by Daren Stone on a corner blitz. He got me right under the chin with his forearm and drove me into the ground.”

That occurred in 2005, when Coen was a redshirt freshman quarterback at the University of Massachusetts. He had the last laugh then – his Minutemen won the game – and he can still chuckle about it every day when his fellow coaches in Orono make sure to point it out to him.

Coen, 30, is replacing longtime offensive coordinator Kevin Bourgoin at Maine. Bourgoin wasn’t retained by new head coach Joe Harasymiak after he was hired in December to replace Jack Cosgrove. Shawn Demaray, who coached tight ends and was the chief recruiting coordinator, also will be replaced on Harasymiak’s staff. Running backs coach Roosevelt Boone will take over the recruiting duties.

Harasymiak is expected to promote defensive line coach Corey Hetherman to defensive coordinator, the position he held for two years before getting the top job.


For Coen, a four-year star at UMass, the challenge is to rev up an offense that has been stuck in neutral the past two seasons. Maine finished 3-8 last fall and averaged a mere 14.9 points per game, tied for ninth in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Coen has repeatedly watched tape of every Black Bears game from last year and came away impressed with wide receivers Micah Wright and Jordan Dunn. He also is optimistic about an offensive line that has four starters returning.

But quarterback and tight end are areas that need improvement, he said.

“My biggest thing is, be special. Don’t just settle for making the catch and getting tackled. Think touchdowns. We need to be more special and more dynamic with the ball in our hands,” said Coen, who plans to run a pro-style offense with spread principles, including occasional stints of no-huddle.

“The biggest thing is trying to get your playmakers the ball in space. Simplify the game plan. We’ll definitely try to impose our will. We’re in Maine, you’ve got to be able to run the football. But we’ll change tempo and use tempo as a weapon. The more you can get the defense to think, the slower they’ll play.”

Coen, who also beat Maine in Orono in 2007, holds nearly every UMass passing mark, including yards (11,031), completion percentage (63.9) and touchdowns (90). The Minutemen were FCS runners-up in 2006 before becoming an FBS program.


After graduating with a degree in communications, the Rhode Island native spent a year playing in the Arena Football League then embarked on a coaching career. He was quarterbacks coach at Brown and Rhode Island before returning to his alma mater as pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

But Coen was looking for the chance to run an offense, and when some mutual acquaintances put him in touch with Harasymiak, at 29 the youngest head coach in Division I football, the two clicked.

“This is an unbelievable step for me in my pro career,” Coen said. “That was my big reason for taking the job is I want to call plays. I want to help a great program win a championship. I think the pieces are in place.”

Coen’s main priority will be selecting and grooming a starting quarterback. Senior Dan Collins and junior Drew Belcher are the front-runners after splitting time under center the past two seasons. Jack Walsh, who redshirted last season, also will be given a chance when spring practices begin April 14. But Coen said he likely won’t make a decision until August.

“They’re going to get plenty of chances to be in competitive situations,” Coen said. “Both guys have tools. They’re good kids. They’ve already come to me wanting to meet, wanting to learn the offense. They’re excited, which is the first thing that has to happen.”

Coen even said the picture of him hanging near his office, the one he has to see every day because “the other coaches on staff like it too much to take it down,” could serve as a teachable moment for his young signal-callers.

“Find the protection,” Coen said he’ll warn them. “And you’d better see the corner blitz.”


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