ORONO — There was no small amount of apprehension Saturday at the 12th annual Jeff Cole scrimmage to cap off spring football practice at the University of Maine.

After all, the Black Bears have a new head coach in Joe Harasymiak, at 29 the youngest in the nation for Division I.

They have a new attack thanks to an offensive coordinator, Liam Coen, who came on board in February.

At the same time, they had only six healthy offensive linemen because of injuries, one of them with a hand bandaged so heavily it resembled a club.

They also have an unsettled situation at quarterback. Dan Collins, a rising senior, and Drew Belcher, a junior, shared the starting role last fall during a 3-8 campaign.

But after a sluggish start Saturday, the offense came to life in the form of four touchdown passes from three quarterbacks. Harasymiak blew an air horn to signal the end of the scrimmage as players whooped it up in the corner of the end zone after Collins connected with redshirt freshman wide receiver Jaquan Blair for a 25-yard touchdown.

“We came out here to find a new identity,” Blair said, “but also to show that we’re a new team in general. It’s not that different, just younger guys and new energy.”

The scrimmage marked the end of three weeks of practice. Jack Cosgrove, who won three conference titles and led the Black Bears to five Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearances in his 23 years at the helm, watched as his hand-picked successor and former defensive coordinator, Harasymiak, directed the proceedings from midfield.

“We’re building,” Harasymiak said. “We have a long way to go, a lot of things to learn, a lot of things to improve on, but this was a step in the right direction.”

Collins, Belcher and redshirt freshman Jack Walsh alternated at quarterback, with Collins taking the most snaps (26). Belcher had 18 and Walsh 14. Each threw a touchdown pass.

Belcher’s came first, finishing a 60-yard drive with a 14-yard catch-and-run to Zaire Williams, a transfer from Temple.

Walsh’s first attempt resulted in a scramble to his right before launching a 36-yard touchdown pass to Blair. Collins got in on the act after his first three drives ended with punts. He converted a third-down pass of 32 yards to Jaleel Reed, then found Jared Osumah for 19 yards and a score.

“Right now these guys have had 15 practices with the offense,” Harasymiak said of his quarterbacks. “We’re not going to make any decisions right now. Come (training) camp, and after our first scrimmages, we’ll probably set that. But I think all three of them have taken steps forward.”

Williams rushed for 533 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman at Temple before being moved to linebacker last fall. He transfered to Maine this winter.

The other significant transfer is junior defensive back DeAndre Scott, who played 16 games in two seasons at Arizona State and last fall served as a special teams captain. He was also a high school teammate in Philadelphia of UMaine junior defensive back Najee Goode.

Maine’s defense forced two turnovers Saturday. Sophomore Sinmisola Demuren intercepted a Belcher overthrow and classmate Uchenna Egwuonwu, a defensive lineman, picked off Belcher on an attempted center screen.

“I had a shot earlier this week in practice and dropped it,” said the 295-pound Egwuonwu. “When they ran it again, I was hoping and hoping. I saw the ball come out and just put my hands up.”

Egwuonwu rumbled 50 yards with the pick before Belcher knocked him out of bounds to save a touchdown.

The scrimmage also included a pair of trick plays on point-after attempts, with the Black Bears lining up in place-kick formation before shifting players wide left and right, leaving a nearly unprotected center snapping deep to Collins.

A 2-point conversion pass from Collins to kicker James DeMartini failed when DeMartini slipped and fell in the end zone. When the Black Bears tried a similar conversion later, a wide pass was successful but negated by an illegal motion penalty.

“Two things with that,” Harasymiak said of the trickery. “I think it keeps the defense or specials teams unit on their toes. So now you’re not getting the true block looks all the time. I also think it lets the kids have fun.”

Spectators clearly enjoyed the change of pace.

“It’s fun for us as coaches, too,” Harasymiak said. “And hey, those are game-changers. You’ve got to be smart as to when you do them, but we’re going to take risks.”

DeMartini, Sam Lenson and Derek Deoul all had a chance to punt, with varying degrees of success. More than a dozen players looked on from the sidelines because of injuries.

The team’s leading returning wide receiver, sophomore Micah Wright, did not participate because he was one of the three people arrested Wednesday at a Maine Day pool party at an off-campus apartment complex.

“We’ve done a good job (on defense) the past few years and I’m trying to bring that mentality to the whole team,” Harasymiak said.

“There’s a positive sense of enjoyment (on offense). That’s what I’m excited about.”

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