ORONO – In a normal year, UMaine football would be gearing up for its homecoming game this coming weekend. This year, the Black Bears are just getting used to full-padded practices with the expectation that come springtime, they will be ready.
Before opening up practice last week, it had been 321 days since UMaine last suited up, but even still, fall football has looked different as they prepare for a potential spring season.
Practices first began in pods of 10 players, then increased to 20, then to just offense and defense in order to limit the amount of players on the field at one time. This week, the team finally practiced as a full team.
“The expectation was to be able to pick up and start to function together as a team. The thing to remember is we’ve been here now for six weeks. We have guys on this team that just met the other day, so you have young freshmen, opposite positions of guys offensively or defensively that don’t know each other,” said Nick Charlton, head football coach for UMaine.
The Black Bears have 37 new players this season and 15 practices as part of the modified fall period.
Charlton added that barring any restrictions from the college, he does plan on having the annual Jeff Cole, blue versus white, inter-squad scrimmage that usually happens in the spring.
As for a regular season, Charlton expects a schedule in the coming weeks with a first game on March 6 assuming changes come at the state level regarding COVID-19 protocols.
“We want to be authentic with our players. We want them to know that we’re serious about what we’re doing, and whether it’s good bad or indifferent, we want to let them know what’s happening and right now, I’m optimistic,” said Charlton.