ORONO – Every day, the backup quarterback prepares for his chance, one that may never come.
He breaks down film, studies plays, and works hard in practice, knowing he must be ready, at a moment’s notice, to step in.
University of Maine sophomore Brian Scott got the call Wednesday after teammate Mickey Fein, who had started 23 straight games, was suspended for one game because of Saturday’s drunken driving arrest.
Scott will be the starting quarterback Saturday when the Black Bears take on New Hampshire in a 12:30 p.m. Atlantic 10 game at Cowell Stadium in Durham, N.H.
The former Waterville High School star is only a day away from one of the most thrilling moments of his life, but you wouldn’t know it to talk to him.
“Everything’s the same for me,” Scott said Thursday. “I prepare every week like I’m gonna be playing or starting. That’s the way I go about my business.”
Scott exhibits remarkable calm for a young man who has played sparingly at UMaine. His experience is limited to brief stints in eight games.
That includes last week, when he completed three of four passes for 64 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score while directing two fourth-quarter scoring drives in Maine’s 62-29 win over Boston University.
UMaine quarterbacks coach Bob Wilder said he isn’t surprised by the poise Scott is showing.
“I’ve watched his demeanor over the last 24 hours [since Fein was suspended] and it hasn’t changed a lick,” said Wilder, who has preached to Scott the importance of being ready to play.
“To be honest with you, he’s the best No. 2 quarterback I’ve been involved with in terms of working to prepare for a game,” he added.
What does Scott think he can provide as UMaine’s quarterback?
“Intangibles, little things, making good decisions and being a leader on the field, staying poised,” Scott said.
Saturday’s start is bittersweet for Scott, whose excitement is tempered by Fein’s predicament. The two were roommates last year and continue to spend time together watching and talking football.
“We’re not only teammates, we’re good friends,” Scott said. “We’re always talking football and we have a great time. He’s gonna get all the support he needs from me.”
Senior co-captain John Tennett, one of Scott’s primary receivers, has the utmost confidence in him.
“I think we feel comfortable with him in there,” Tennett said. “I don’t think, with our offense, it’s gonna make any difference. We run a lot of quick routes and things like that. It’s just a different guy throwing it, but we still have to catch it.”
Wilder believes Scott’s forte is adjusting to game conditions. He said the key for Scott is to play within himself.
“He has an ability to improvise, an ability to react to a situation that I haven’t drawn up on the board,” Wilder said. “Brian can throw the football and Brian can run.”
One plus for Scott, who has been backing up Fein since the beginning of last season, is he has two or three days to get used to the idea of being the quarterback. It has been a long wait for Scott, who redshirted in 1995 and has toiled in Fein’s shadow ever since.
“Sometimes it gets frustrating, but you’ve got to understand your role and accept it,” Scott said. “I have to be ready to go.”
Scott is confident in the Bears’ ability to respond against UNH.
“No question, it’s an adverse situation we’re going into, so we need everyone to step up a little bit, come together as a team, and keep things going.”