The University of Maine football team is off to a 2-1 start this season.
What the Black Bears have been working on during the two weeks since their last game is getting off to a better start in their games.
Head coach Nick Charlton said his team has benefited from its time off and he’ll be looking for a strong first 30 minutes when UMaine takes on 16th-ranked Villanova in a noon game Saturday on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium in Orono.
The Wildcats have won five of the last six meetings.
Thus far this season, UMaine has yet to score in the first quarter and has been outscored 16-0. The Black Bears have been outscored 43-24 in the first half.
“Our team error [percentage] is very high early in the game. It is like 15 percent in the first half and four percent in the second half,” Charlton said.
The team calculates efficiency of dynamics such as missed assignments, dropped passes and in wrong “reads” in evaluating in-game situations.
“It starts with me. Just getting on the same page with the receivers [in the first quarter],” sophomore quarterback Joe Fagnano said. “It takes us a little bit to get warmed up. The second halves have been a lot better. But we have to come out and play a full four quarters this week.”
“We have to have that mentality that we have to score points fast and right away,” he added.
The Black Bears have been concentrating on fundamentals, with work on special teams, and have remained focused.
“We practiced in a hailstorm the other day and the guys responded really well,” Charlton said.
The extra week off particularly helped offensive tackle Matthias Staalsoe, who missed the 35-19 win over Stony Brook with an undisclosed injury.
“We’re excited to have him back. We will be a little healthier than we were a week ago,” Charlton said.
Villanova features a dual-threat quarterback in Daniel Smith and some quality running backs and receivers. The Wildcats also have a formidable defense.
“We’re going to have to stay in our lanes and stay in our coverages as [Smith] expands the play. And we have to stop their running game,” Charlton said.
Villanova coach Mark Ferrante has been trying to get his team back on track after two weeks off as the result of games canceled by COVID-19 issues. The Wildcats haven’t played since a 40-37 loss to Rhode Island on March 13.
Villanova had been scheduled to play New Hampshire last weekend.