It’s Homecoming Weekend at the University of Maine and the Black Bear football team will welcome not only alums but the #17 team in the nation, the Great Danes of Albany.
Albany suffered their first lost last week, a three overtime affair at home to Richmond. While their offensive numbers have been somewhat underwhelming, the Albany defense has been a turnover machine, picking off a league-best eleven passes and holding a +14 turnover ratio. Junior linebacker Michael Nicastro leads the CAA with three interceptions and also has 52 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Defensive backs Rayshan Clark and Jamal Robinson are among the league leaders in passes defended, each with two interceptions and five breakups.
Maine will look for Senior Quarterback Dan Collins to have another big week. He threw for a career-high 307 yards along with three touchdowns at Delaware and has big play targets in sophomore Micah Wright (16 receptions, 235 yards), Jaleel Reed (18-321), and freshman Earnest Edwards, who caught a 60 yard touchdown pass last week. The Black Bears have yet to establish a consistent running game and will look to find more offensive balance against Albany.
The Albany offense has been led by sophomore back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, who has rushed for 589 yards and a 5.1 yards per carry average. The passing game is suspect with starting QB Neven Sussman only completing 46.7% of his throws for just 660 yards. Maine needs to do a better job of tackling to lower their defensive averages, with the Black Bears giving up 207 rushing yards per game. Maine expects LB Christophe Malumba-Tshimanga to return this week along with his 44 tackles and two sacks, and hope that the defensive line, led by Pat Ricard can get to Sussman, who has been sacked thirteen times in five games.
Kickoff for Maine-Albany is at 12:00 p.m. Saturday at Morse Field at Alfond Stadium.