WHERE: Alfond Stadium, Orono

KICKOFF: Noon, Saturday

WEB/TV: FloSports/WPXT, Portland

ALL-TIME SERIES: First meeting

LAST WEEK: Merrimack defeated Holy Cross, 35-21; Maine lost to James Madison, 55-7

KEY STAT: Merrimack is averaging 517 yards of total offense in its first two games.

OUTLOOK: Maine will start a new quarterback in this one, redshirt freshman Derek Robertson, in for the injured Joe Fagnano. Don’t expect a whole lot of changes in the offense, though. The Black Bears will continue to take shots downfield, especially against the Warriors man-to-man coverage. Look for Robertson to try to get the ball to playmakers Andre Miller, Devin Young, Zavier Scott and Michael Monios. But expect Maine to also really push to establish the run, to take pressure off Robertson and set up the passing game. The Black  Bears have a big size advantage with their offensive line against Merrimack’s defensive line so they should be able to get Elijah Barnwell and Freddy Brock going.

Maine’s pass defense needs to perform better. The Black Bears are giving up 320.5 yards per game while Merrimack is averaging 330 passing yards per game. Warriors QB Westin Elliott has completed 77 percent of his passes and thrown for seven touchdowns. In two games, Maine has given up 17 explosive passing plays (completions of 15 yards or more), including touchdown passes of 55, 66, 73 and 51 yards. While Maine’s front seven has played well in limiting long runs, the secondary has to stop giving up big plays. Merrimack is well balanced, averaging 187 rushing yards per game, so the Black Bears will be tested there as well. Their defensive front needs to stop the run and pressure Elliott.

OF NOTE: Maine is 13-2 all-time against teams from  the Northeast Conference, of which Merrimack is a member. The Warriors moved up to Division I in 2019. … The Black Bears will, of course, be without starting QB Joe Fagnano, who suffered a high ankle sprain in his right foot in last week’s loss to James Madison. He is expected to be out 4-6 weeks. … Merrimack’s win against Holy Cross last week was its first against a team ranked in the FCS Top 25. Holy Cross was ranked 24th following its win over FBS opponent Connecticut the week before (and quickly dropped out this week) … Maine LB Ray Miller (10.o) and safety Fofie Bazzie (9.o) rank first and third in tackles per game in the Colonial Athletic Association. … Merrimack was 12 for 18 on third downs against Holy Cross, while holding the Crusaders to 1 for 7 in third-down conversions.


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