Prior to Saturday night’s victory over Stony Brook, it had been almost three years since a University of Maine quarterback had thrown for four touchdowns in a game.
Sophomore Adam Farkes accomplished the feat in only 30 minutes of first-half action.
The ability of the Black Bears to throw the ball downfield more effectively was the most obvious difference in UMaine’s ability to post a convincing victory in its home opener while christening the FieldTurf on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium in Orono.
Farkes had his most productive outing as the Bears’ quarterback, passing for four scores on 12-for-22 accuracy.
“We made some big plays in the pass game, got a couple turnovers in the first half, and got on a pretty good run of throwing and catching it and got up 28-10,” Cosgrove said during the weekly Colonial Athletic Association teleconference.
UMaine hit scoring passes of 30, 26, 3 and 31 yards against the Seawolves, quickly taking the pressure off tailback Jhamal Fluellen and the Bears’ steady rushing attack.
“I think the main thing was, a lot of guys were making big plays, especially guys like Ty [Jones],” Farkes said of the sophomore wide receiver who made TD catches of 30 and 31 yards.
“The more the guys on the outside keep making plays, it’s just going to open things up,” Farkes added. “We’ve been saying since [preseason] camp that our passing game has a lot of potential as long as people keep making the plays.”
It was the first four-TD passing effort since Ron Whitcomb threw four five at New Hampshire on Nov. 19, 2005.
Cosgrove wasted no time making sure the offensive unit didn’t get complacent about its performance. The Bears’ 16th-year coach said Saturday’s success came in fits and starts.
“I think it’s out of desperation, in some cases,” Cosgrove said, referring to some lengthy third- and fourth-down conversions pulled off by UMaine against SBU.
“I felt like offensively we lacked some consistency,” he explained. “We had some great drives and some great plays, but we had a lot of three-and-outs, too. We’re going to work on being more consistent with our offensive productivity and having a better mix of run and pass.”
There does appear to be progress in terms of the development of the passing game, which features mostly underclassmen. Junior Landis Williams (10 receptions, 83 yards, 2 TDs) is the top threat, although he left Saturday’s game with a foot/ankle injury and did not return.
“It all starts off the field,” Jones said. “We started taking classes together, eating together. You’ve’ got to start building that bond, then on the field you have that bond, too.”
Cosgrove did concede UMaine is demonstrating signs of growth as a team.
Cosgrove appears on ESPN2-TV
Cosgrove made a brief appearance Monday morning on “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” a weekday ESPN Radio show that is simulcast on ESPN2-TV.
Cosgrove and show co-hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic discussed the Bears’ victory over Stony Brook in the game dubbed “The Battle for the Butter” last week by the show’s listeners.
The segment touched on UMaine’s victory, recognized Cosgrove as the winningest football coach in UMaine history (he pointed out he also is the losingest) and included talk about the name given the game and a brief statement of the keys to the Bears’ win.
Despite professing his dislike for lobster, Cosgrove promised Mike and Mike a “six pack” of Maine lobsters.
Earlier in the show, ESPN football analyst Todd McShay provided a breakdown of the game.
“I didn’t really play much attention to it while it was going on [last week], really didn’t understand it in terms of the butter thing,” Cosgrove admitted. “I guess it did bring a lot of attention to the program in some ways.”
Cosgrove and the Bears are hoping their “15 minutes of fame” will continue with a run at the Colonial Athletic Association title this season.