Going from the Big East to the Northeast Conference on the schedule and from 65,000-seat Heinz Field to 10,000-seat University Field in Albany, the University of Maine might initially seem poised for a letdown when it meets the University of Albany (6 p.m., Saturday).

Maine coach Jack Cosgrove can remember similar letdowns in his team’s recent history. In 2008, the Black Bears went from an early-season loss to Iowa to the next week having to come from behind to beat another Northeast Conference foe, Monmouth, the following week.

The Black Bears (1-1) may have been looking past Monmouth, but Cosgrove isn’t worried about them looking past Albany.

“I think this one’s a little bit different for us. We’ve lost to Albany two years in a row,” he said. “Certainly they have our attention.”

Albany blanked Maine, 3-0, in the 2010 season opener in Orono. The Great Danes are 0-1 this season, coming off a 37-34 overtime loss to Colgate two weeks ago.

Maine lost to Pitt last week, 35-29, and while the game wasn’t as close as the score would suggest, Cosgrove was pleased with the Bears’ competitiveness through all four quarters.


“The biggest thing that we wanted to see was a full 60 minutes from our guys,” Cosgrove said. “We walked off the field feeling like we laid it all out there for 60 minutes.”

The consistency of effort and the consistency of senior QB Warren Smith have led to 57 points through two games. Smith has completed 63.1 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions, averaging 234.5 yards per game.

“He’s really demonstrated that he’s learned through some hard experiences last year along the lines of management of the game and ball security especially. He’s made some great decisions for us in the first two weeks of the season,” Cosgrove said.

Tight end Derek Buttles leads the Bears with 10 receptions on the season after tallying seven catches for 148 yards and a TD last week.

The running game suffered against Pitt’s power in the trenches. Pushaun Brown has four straight 100-yard rushing games against FCS opponents.

Led by sophomore defensive end Michael Cole (eight tackles, 2.5 sacks), Maine’s defense wore down against Pitt. Injuries to defensive tackle Ryan Nani and linebacker Aaron Achey (two sacks) shortened the rotation, but Cosgrove noted how the Bears pressured the quarterback (seven sacks) and how the unit held up against the bigger, stronger Panthers.

“They had to make plays to beat us. It’s not like we made a lot of mistakes,” he said.

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