"The experience factor is huge," head coach Joe Harasymiak said. "And I think once they realize they can play at the level, it kind of gives them the confidence of coming back for another year and being comfortable in that moment."
The Black Bears' defensive array features a talented group of returners like Sterling Sheffield, Kayon Whitaker, Jaron Grayer, Charles Mitchell and others, and they were in prime form Monday. That's not to say the offense, a far less-experienced unit, struggled entirely, but rather, was a tip of the hat to the defense.
"We just always know that we're going against the best," running back Ramon Jefferson said. "And so like, when we do make those big plays, we know that we're really going against the best. And when things don't look so good, we know we're going against the best. So we always just prepare and know that we're doing good."
But it would also be a tip of the hat to anyone who performed well Monday, given the weather circumstances. Temperatures pushed into the 90s during the scrimmage, which was already moved to earlier in the day to combat the sun, while the temperature on the field turf bordered 100 degrees. Through this, the players were encouraged to push forward.
"You just gotta embrace it," Mitchell said. You just gotta embrace the grind. And everything that we look forward to is just here, so you can't back down from it."
To adapt, Maine's coaches and training staff broke up reps and drills with as many water breaks and chances to rest as possible while still keeping the competitive nature. But given it was a scrimmage, escaping the heat was still difficult.
"There were parts that were much slower, but that was design, simply because there wasn't enough time to rest," head athletic trainer Ryan Taylor said. "There wasn't a half time to go inside, so we just kept things rolling, and tons of water. "
With similar days ahead, Harasymiak is processing how to help his team adapt further, while still getting the Black Bears ready for Aug. 30 vs. No. 7 New Hampshire.
"It's just something that we've got to keep in mind, get them off their feet, and constant hydration," he said. "So between us, the medical staff and the kids being honest with us with how they're feeling, and just reading their body language is something I'm learning. And today I think we made the right call."