As the University of Maine Black Bears prep for this Saturday's game against Merrimack, they do so without their starting quarterback Joe Fagnano.

Fagnano, who was one of 44 players selected to the preseason FCS National Performer of the Year Trophy watch list, suffered a high ankle sprain early in last week's 55-7 blowout loss at James Madison.

Since assuming the QB1 role for the Black Bears in the 2019 season following an injury to then starting QB Chris Ferguson, Fagnano has passed for 2966 yards and 27 touchdowns while throwing just six interceptions in 14 games.

Now, in search of their first win of the 2021 season, the Black Bears will turn to red shirt freshman Derek Robertson to lead the offense. Robertson completed 8-of-22 passes for 88 yards, one TD and one INT in relief a week ago.

While the stats and the final score certainly wasn't inspiring, head coach Nick Charlton said Robertson acquitted himself quite well in his season debut under tough circumstances.

"The guys in the huddle believed in [Derek]," said Charlton during his weekly appearance on The Drive.

"He made the best of the moment. Obviously it wasn't up to his standards or ours...but he has a lot of moxie, he's very intelligent...we're ready to roll with him," added Charlton.

Robertson, who played in one game during the abbreviated spring season when he completed all four pass attempts for 28 yards, hails from Yonkers, New York, where he was named the NYCHSFL Offensive Player of the Year as a senior and holds the West Chester County record for most passing yards in a season.

The Bridgton Academy alum will make his first career start Saturday at noon against a somewhat surprising Merrimack squad that is 2-0 to begin the year.

The Warriors, who are currently transitioning from Division II, defeated Holy Cross last week, 35-21. A week prior, Holy Cross defeated UConn of the FBS in their season opener.

You can catch our full conversation with Charlton, below, and make sure to tune into The Morning Line from 6am-8am and The Drive from 4pm-6pm on Thursday for your chance to win tickets to this Saturday's Maine vs. Merrimack game.

Nick Charlton