Sunday, August 28, 2016

Connecticut well represented on Maine's starting offense

When I started doing some research on the 2016 Maine football team with the season opener quickly approaching, a couple of things immediately caught my eye.

First, three Connecticut products are listed as starters on offense and former Temple running back Zaire Williams (who had a touchdown in a 2013 loss to UConn) is now a part of the Black Bears.

I addressed both subjects with Maine coach Joe Harasymiak on a phone hookup shortly before UConn coach Bob Diaco met with the media today.

Bloomfield's Isaiah Brooks is the starting right guard, Bridgeport's Nigel Beckford is the top tailback and South Windsor's Jared Osumah is a starting receiver.

"When I first got here, Connecticut was my recruiting area so obviously it has been great for us," Harasymiak said. "Those guys are looking forward to coming home. The Connecticut area is huge for us, it is where we get as lot of our kids from and it is better to do that. those guys will obviously be really excited. We went down to play Boston College a couple years in a row now but going to their home state will mean a lot to them and their families."

Williams was Temple's second-leading rusher as a freshman in 2013 and one of his three touchdowns came against UConn.

"He is doing well," Harasymiak said. "He came in as a mid-year transfer from Temple, we were able to get him here in January, get him acclimated to the system. Obviously he is give us the offense that we needed. Besides Nigel Bradford last year, we really struggled with having our own piece there, so having him and Beckford back there, kind of that two-headed monster we should be able to run the ball effectively. We have to break some tackles, I don't think we did that enough in the last couple of years. Those 5/6 yard runs potentially turn into 20-yard runs and a score. Zaire will also help us with our pass game out of the backfield, that is something that he has great hands and he has a great sense for it."

Another thing that came out of Maine's preseason camp is that senior Dan Collins was named the starting quarterback even though both he and Drew Belcher saw time there last year.

"His decision making has been great since the new offense has been installed," Harasymiak said. "His decision making, I think he has turned the ball over legitimately twice since spring ball, one was on a tipped ball at the D-line in our second scrimmage. He is commanding the huddle, doing those kind of things."

Since we spoke to Diaco on Wednesday for quite a while, there weren't many subjects left to be addressed today.

He did say that senior linebacker Jon Hicks has been cleared to practice so he could see time against Maine. Diaco said that other than linebacker Connor Freeborn, who is out for the season with a lower-leg injury, UConn should have the services of everybody for the game.


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