#40 Maine FCS Football 2014 Preview

George Hammond

Maine Black Bears

Overall Rank: #40
#9 Colonial

Maine Team Page #40 Maine FCS Football 2014 PreviewBuy Maine Football Tickets

The Black Bears won’t soon forget their historic 2013 season, but they might be hard-pressed to duplicate their banner year in which they won their first Colonial Athletic Association title. In addition, Maine clinched a FCS playoff berth for the first time since 2011 and played host to a playoff game for the first time. However, the Black Bears couldn’t beat rival New Hampshire, losing 24-3 in the regular-season finale, then two weeks later losing again in the playoffs to the Wildcats, 41-27. Still, CAA coach of the Year Jack Cosgrove hopes last season can provide a foundation for consistent success. Three years ago, Maine went 9-4 in 2011 only to slip to 5-6 the following season. There are key players missing from last year’s title team, but several important players return.

2013 Record: (10-3, 7-1)
2013 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Jack Cosgrove (121-121 at Maine, 121-121 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Bourgoin
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Harasymiak

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Nigel Jones, RB, 596 yards
Passing: Daniel Collins, QB, 35 yards
Receiving: Damarr Aultman, WR, 550 yards
Tackles: Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga, LB, 118
Sacks: Cabrinni Goncalves, LB, 6.5
Interceptions: Axel Oforsi, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Arthur Williams, OL Daniel Carriker, OL Bruce Johnson, DL Matthew Wilson, DL Darius Greene, SS Khari Al-Mateen, DL Patrick Ricard, K Sean Decloux

Key Losses: QB Marcus Wasilewski, WR John Eberling, RB Rickey Stevens, OL Joe Hook, OL Je Gakos, OL Tyler Patterson, CB Kendall James, FS Jamal Clay, DL Michael Cole, LB Troy Eastman

Coach Cosgrove was fairly pleased with his team’s red-zone defense last year, and that could be just as strong in 2014 with the return of several outstanding linebackers and defensive linemen, including CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga and fellow linebacker Cabrinni Goncalves. Maine, which was No. 1 in CAA pass defense last year, has eight starters returning on defense, including four of its top five tacklers. Strong safety Khari Al-Mateen and cornerback Axel Ofori lead the secondary and Trevor Bates heads up the defensive front. The Black Bears also return the CAA’s top kicker in junior Sean Decloux, who set a school record with 16 field goals.

Now the bad news. Maine lost quarterback Marcus Wasilewski, running back Rickey Stevens, wide receivers John Ebeling and Derrick Johnson, tight end Justin Perillo, cornerback Kenndall James, defensive end Mike Cole and three-fifths of its starting offensive line. How these holes are filled will likely go a long way in determining how the Black Bears fare this season. Wasilewski, in particular, brought many intangibles and likely replacement Dan Collins, a redshirt sophomore who appeared in just two games last season, has big shoes to fill. Nigel Jones should fill in nicely for Stevens, and wide receiver Damarr Aultman saw plenty of action last year and should be the top receiver. Meanwhile, Daniel Carriker and Bruce Johnson should solidify the offensive line.  

The Bottom Line:
Even with the inexperience at quarterback, Maine should jump out to a 2-0 start with contests against Norfolk State and Bryant. Then it gets interesting as the next four games are: at Boston College, at Towson, Villanova and at Stony Brook. That stretch will likely determine the Black Bears’ fate and whether they have a chance to return to the playoffs. The CAA is loaded this season so a victory over Towson or Villanova is crucial. Then, of course, the Bears finish at home with rival New Hampshire, a team that has had its number in recent years. Wasilewski was one of those athletes that made everyone around him a better player. Although the defense should be stout, Wasilewski’s absence will be missed. Plus, New Hampshire, Towson, Villanova, Richmond and possibly one or two others figure to be playoff contenders out of the CAA. That doesn’t leave much room for Maine.

Projected Postseason: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 174.50 (50th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 251.80 (28, 2)
Total Offense: 426.30 (31, 5)
Scoring Offense: 29.80 (40, 5)
Rushing Defense: 165.30 (59, 7)
Pass Defense: 176.90 (13, 1)
Total Defense: 342.20 (22, 3)
Scoring Defense: 22.10 (20, 3)
Turnover Margin: .30 (38, 3)
Sacks: 2.31 (38, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.08 (65, 6)

Madness 2013 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#50 Drew Belcher
#128 Chris Okupski


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