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 already were breaking down film of Maine’s next opponent.

The film session came less than 36 hours after the Black Bears 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 The Sports Network/ Fathead.com Top 25 poll. It’s the first time Maine has been ranked since Sept. 14, 2009, when it was 19th in the FCS Coaches Poll Top 25. The Black Bears are not ranked in the coaches poll this week.

The ranking is something for fans to get excited about, but at the same time, it’s not something that’s necessarily in Maine’s hands.

“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 schools ranked in this week’s poll, joining No. 6 New Hampshire, No. 7 James Madison, No. 9 William and 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 league to the playoffs, and it wouldn’t be a stretch in how good they are.”

One of the keys in Maine’s win over Delaware was the success of the run game. Maine tailback Pushaun Brown earned CAA Offensive Player of the Week honors by 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 are 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 also began reviewing tape on the Black Bears, had this to say about his team’s opponent this week:

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

 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.