Panther Preview: FIU Football vs. North Texas

The FIU football team on defense. Photo courtesy of Theo Lozano Wong | PantherNOW

Will Duval | Sports Director

The FIU football team is playing their Hispanic Heritage Kickoff game against the North Texas Mean Green on Saturday, Sep. 9, 2023, in Miami, Florida.

Coming off a 14-12 victory over the Maine Bears, the Panthers hold a 1-1 record to start their 2023 campaign. 

After naming freshman quarterback Keyone Jenkins as the starter, FIU made significant offensive improvements, throwing for 288 more passing yards than in their first game.

Having played one less game, the Mean Green hold a 0-1 record after taking a 58-12 loss to the California Golden Bears in their season-opener.

Despite the offense having three passing touchdowns, North Texas struggled to run the ball, rushing for 41 yards on 27 attempts as a team.

Their defense left much to be desired, allowing 357 rushing yards and 312 passing yards, unable to stop California’s offensive onslaught.

In their previous matchup on Nov. 5,2022, the Panthers took a 52-14 blowout loss to the Mean Green.

As FIU struggled to contain North Texas’ offense, they allowed junior quarterback Austin Aune to throw for 414 yards and five touchdowns.

Aune, the six-foot two inch, 221-pound veteran was the oldest quarterback in the NCAA last year, starting for the Mean Green at 29 years old.

Joining the Atlanta Falcons in the offseason, Aune is no longer the commander of North Texas’ offense as junior quarterback Stone Earle was the starter in their first game.

Against the Golden Bears, Earle threw for 174 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. While showing an ability to get the ball into the endzone, interceptions derailed any chances for  Mean Green to win.

If the Panthers want to leave this match victorious, they must play fast and aggressive, taking advantage of North Texas’ defense.

Utilizing the running game through sophomore running back Shomari Lawrence can be extremely effective against this defense, as they allowed over 300 rushing yards in their first game.

However, running the ball cannot be FIU’s only strategy of attack, as the quarterback play in their 2022 matchup was one of the deciding factors.

Junior quarterback Grayson James struggled to create offense, throwing for 130 yards and two interceptions. Now with Jenkins at the helm, the Panthers need him to continue his stellar play in order to pull together a win.

Looking to build off their previous game, the FIU football team is taking on the North Texas Mean Green on Saturday, Sep. 9, 2023 at the FIU Football Stadium in Miami, Florida.

Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. with the broadcast being available on ESPN+.


FIU: 24

UNT: 13

Follow Will Duval on X: @WillDuval40

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