Homecoming Panther Preview: FIU Football vs UConn

FIU head coach Mike MacIntyre cheering in a post-game huddle with FIU football team. Photo by FIU Athletics

Adrian Valdivia | Staff Writer

Coming off a big 21-7 road victory against New Mexico State, FIU heads into Saturday with a ton of momentum as they take on the University of Connecticut Huskies on homecoming night.

The Huskies also have momentum coming into Miami with their 19-14 win over Fresno State last Saturday, marking their second win of the season.

Both UConn and FIU struggled at the beginning of the season but now have picked it up by week five. Both teams have already established starters and have a solid record for two programs that have had a lot of ups and downs in previous years.

For FIU, quarterback Grayson James will start his fourth game of the season on Saturday. James is currently 1-2 as a starter, with his games being good, but not great, mainly due to the offensive line, although, this all changed last week at Las Cruces.

For the past few weeks, FIU’s offensive line has been a key issue and has been a detriment to the team’s offensive performance.

However, that was not the case last Saturday, as FIU’s offensive line protected James throughout the entire game, letting him hit wide receivers Tyrese Chambers and Jalen Bracey for two touchdowns. This allowed the run game to progress, giving running back Lexington Joseph great blocks which gave him 80 yards and a touchdown throughout the course of the game.

Although they struggled earlier in the season, FIU’s men up front performed exceptionally well this past weekend and were a key part of the team’s success.

Defensively, FIU has given up an average of 160 yards per game on the ground, adding another 300 on average in the air. The Panthers did play well last week, but that was also against a New Mexico State team that hasn’t been playing its best football as of late, similar to FIU.

UConn is also in the same boat as the Panthers. They’ve found their starters and their players have looked promising, but so far they’ve struggled.

True Freshman quarterback Zion Turner has thrown roughly 55% throughout the year, with an average of 111 passing yards a game. Struggles for UConn also come from their defense, as they’ve given up an average of 252 yards through the air, with 147 rushing yards a game.

Despite the struggles on the defensive side of the ball, their offense has shown a lot of prowess. Sophomore wide receiver Aaron Turner had 128 yards combined in their first two games but has been quiet since.

Additionally, running back Nathan Carter is making his presence known on the field, averaging 6.2 yards a carry and sitting at 405 total yards so far this season.

This will be a big game for both programs, as they are both at two wins and look to capture their third. FIU looks to keep the undefeated homestand going, while UConn looks to ruin homecoming.

On another note, FIU has already doubled their win total from last season, and looks to keep the momentum going throughout the season.

As FIU football head coach Mike MacIntyre put it, “we are on a day-by-day, game-by-game basis.”

Both the coaching staff and players are looking forward to Saturday’s game, hoping to give FIU fans a great game.

Kickoff is set for 7 PM and can be streamed on ESPN3 while heard locally on WQBA 1140 AM.

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