ORONO – Prep all you want, but there was no stopping University of Maine running back Josh Mack this past Saturday against Bryant.
“I’ve had a target on my back since high school football,” he said. “I’ve been the guy to go to. I know it’s college football now, but it’s kind of something that I’m used to. I like that.”
His play only proved that. Mack rushed just 13 times Saturday, but accumulated 255 yards and three scores in the process. He was the first Black Bear to rush for more than 200 yards since the 2003 season, and earned conference offensive player of the week award honors in the process. His explosion came from what he credits to be an electric offense that sees Maine, even without top receiver Micah Wright, utilize its most athletic players to their fullest.
“We’re exploiting our athletes. Our best players. I like this offense a lot more than last year. We put up more points. I don’t think we ever put up 60 points last year.”
The offense ran like a well-oiled machine against the Bulldogs, with redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Ferguson just needing eight completions in order to notch three touchdown passes on the afternoon. Mack, who came into the program with Ferguson last year, said his rapport with Ferguson has been a driving force towards his own personal success.
“He’s been my boy since we got here,” Mack said. “We always joked about it last year. ‘It’s going to be me and you next year, it’s going to be me and you next year.’ And for it to actually happen, we actually talked about it on the sidelines during the Bryant game, he kept saying to me, ‘it’s the 1-2 action, it’s the 1-2 action.'”
Mack’s success this weekend is also a product of the coaching staff identifying a weakness in his game against New Hampshire Week 1. The staff noticed Mack was receiving the ball with his body open, forcing himself to the outside rather than into the pockets created by the offensive line. They worked in practice, and it paid dividends.
“Looking at my running from Week 1 to Week 2, I kept my shoulder pads more down. I was more north and south than east and west. I didn’t bounce around the hole, I just took one cut and go,” Mack said.
And as his performance proved, Mack is deserving of being feature back in this crowded Maine system. He said he’s appreciative of the trust the staff is placing in him, and that it will only further improve him in the future.
“For the coaches to be able to trust in me to go out and do what I do every day, it means a lot as a 19-year-old growing up,” he said. “If I’m able to trust them and they’re able to trust me, that builds a great team, builds great character and helps me become a man.”