Redshirt freshman Derek Robertson will be the University of Maine’s starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.
Joe Fagnano is sidelined by an ankle injury suffered late in the first period of Saturday’s 55-7 drubbing at the hands of No. 3 James Madison University.
Fagnano, a second-team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection during UMaine’s COVID-19-abbreviated four-game spring schedule, has a “severe high ankle sprain,” according to UMaine head coach Nick Charlton.
“He will be out indefinitely,” Charlton said Monday.
Fagnano completed four of six passes for 31 yards before he was hurt after throwing a pass. He has started UMaine’s last 12 games.
He is wearing a protective boot as high ankle sprains are more severe than low ankle sprains and take more time to heal.
Robertson made his collegiate debut in a 44-17 loss to Villanova this spring and completed all four of his passes for 28 yards. On Saturday, he connected on eight of his 22 passes 88 yards and his first career touchdown, a 22-yard pass to Andre Miller in the third quarter.
Robertson was intercepted once and was sacked three times.
“I was proud of his effort. He didn’t bat an eye when he went in under a pretty adverse situation,” Charlton said. “He understood what was going on. He didn’t make all the throws or connect on everything we wanted him to, but when you are thrust into that position, it’s tough.”
Robertson, a native of Yonkers, New York, who attended Bridgton Academy, will make his first start on Saturday at noon at Alfond Stadium against Merrimack College (2-0).
“He had a really strong training camp. He is very intelligent, he has a lot of ability and is very capable of running our offense,” Charlton said. “He is very excited for the opportunity and Joe is going to be with him on the sidelines.
In his final season at Iona Prep, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Robertson set the Westchester County record for passing yards in a season with 2,774 and also threw 27 touchdown passes.
“Our offense is built around our quarterback. Whatever our quarterback does well, we’re going to do,” Charlton said. “The game plan will be built around Derek’s strengths. He does some things really, really well and we’re going to put him in position to do those things.”
Charlton was disappointed with his team’s performance, especially in the second half, but said it is time to turn the page on the Black Bears’ 0-2 start.
“We still have everything in front of us,” Charlton said. “We haven’t done the things we need to do. The guys are disappointed. But it’s time to reset and move on. We’re going to keep the positive energy moving forward. Merrimack is a good football team coming off a big win (35-21 over Holy Cross).
“Our team is all-in, they’re all workers. I’m not concerned about that. We just have to go out and execute,” Charlton said. “We’re tired of talking about what we can do. It’s time we go out and do it.”
One of the few bright spots in Saturday’s loss was the play of redshirt senior free safety Fofie Bazzie, who registered a game-high 10 tackles.
Bazzie is in his second season at UMaine after transferring from the University of Maryland.
“I was really impressed with him. He brought a lot of energy,” Charlton said. “This was one of his best games he’s played in his young career with us. He did a great job. He was very upbeat and positive, keeping the guys in the game.”
After the Merrimack game, UMaine visits Football Bowl Subdivision team Northern Illinois on Sept. 25. After taking a week off, the Black Bears return to CAA play with an Oct. 9 home game against Elon.