BALTIMORE — University of Maine football coach Jack Cosgrove doesn’t like to juggle quarterbacks.

So he hopes either sophomore Drew Belcher or junior Dan Collins will step forward as the starter this year for the Black Bears, who were picked to finish seventh of 12 teams at the Colonial Athletic Association’s football media day Tuesday at M&T Bank Stadium.

“If you look at the top teams they have proven quarterbacks,” Cosgrove said. “We are not at that point yet. We don’t have that veteran.

“But I think we have a chance to be pretty good at that position. I feel we will make a decision on one guy and he’ll be our quarterback.”

Collins won the preseason competition last year and started the first six games before suffering a season-ending injury at Stony Brook. He completed 77 of 143 passes for 908 yards and nine touchdowns.

Belcher was the starter the rest of the season and completed 77 of 152 passes for 740 yards and three touchdowns.

“They are both far more advanced at this point (than last year) with their overall games,” Cosgrove said. “That is an important statement to be able to make. Dan was making great progress when he got hurt. We went to Drew after that; there were some bumps for him early. They both have a lot more confidence this year.”

Three Black Bears were selected Tuesday to the preseason all-conference team: offensive lineman Bruce Johnson, defensive lineman Trevor Bates and linebacker Christophe Mulumba-Tshimanga.

Bates, who played at Westbrook High, was a second-team all-CAA player last year. He started all 11 games, intercepting three passes and averaging 5.5 tackles per game.

Bates said the Black Bears need to take advantage of their opportunities, no matter who prevails at quarterback.

“Last year we didn’t finish and win as many games as I wanted to,” he said.

Maine, which begins practice Aug. 10, was 5-6 overall and finished in a tie for fifth in the CAA last year with a league record of 4-4.

The Black Bears open the season Sept. 5 at Boston College, then have a week off before playing Sept. 19 at Tulane.

Cosgrove said it will be the first time in school history that UMaine has played back-to-back games against FBS programs.

“It will be a huge challenge for us,” Cosgrove said. “They will make us better. Then our league schedule comes into play and that’s where you earn your money. That’s the championship we’re pursuing.”

Maine begins conference play at home Sept. 26 against Rhode Island, picked to finish 11th in the conference this year. The Black Bears won at URI 20-14 last season.

Villanova is the preseason favorite, followed by James Madison, New Hampshire, William & Mary and Richmond.

Maine plays at Villanova on Oct. 31 and at New Hampshire on Nov. 21, and doesn’t face James Madison or William & Mary.

The CAA produced four playoff teams last year and since 2003 has had four national champs.

“The league has established itself as a strong conference year in and year out,” said Cosgrove, who led the Black Bears to the conference title in 2013. “The margin of separation is not a lot. There’s a pretty good group of teams playing consistent football in this league.”

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