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FIU to stick with Grayson James starting quarterback for home opener vs. Maine

Grayson James is still the quarterback.

Despite passing for the lowest total in FIU history – just four yards last week in a 22-17 season-opening loss at Louisiana Tech – James got a vote of confidence on Tuesday from coach Mike MacIntyre.

Asked if James will start in FIU’s home opener on Saturday (6:30 p.m.) against Maine, MacIntyre said: “Yes, the way I see it right now, unless something changes in the next couple days.”

James completed just 5-of-14 passes with no touchdowns and one interception. But it was more than just the QB that was at fault, according to MacIntyre.

“(The passing game) broke down in a lot of different places,” MacIntyre said. “(Louisiana Tech) played good coverage.

“We felt we could run the ball well, which we did at times. And we only had 40-something (total) snaps. We didn’t throw it as much as we would like to, and we want to be more efficient passing the ball. We have to improve in that area, and we will.”

Since James became FIU’s starter last year, he has 11 touchdown passes and just one interception in the Panthers’ four wins. But in the eight losses during which James has played, he has zero TD passes and 11 interceptions.

MacIntyre said he has been rotating all three of his quarterbacks – including Haden Carlson and true freshman Keyone Jenkins – through fall camp and again this week.

Running back Shomari Lawrence, who ran for 139 yards, a 9.3 average and one touchdown last week in his FIU debut, expressed confidence in James.

“Everything will be fine,” Lawrence said. “It was just the first game.

“I know it looks bad on paper, but (James) is going to click. I trust him. He has the smarts. I promised you: There won’t be a game like that again for him.”

THIS AND THAT

MacIntyre said Lawrence’s 67-yard TD run in the opening minute of last week’s game was a split-zone play. Lawrence made one guy miss, and he got good blocks primarily from center John Bock II and guards Jacob Peace and Naeer Jackson.

FIU was “inches away”, MacIntyre said, from breaking another potential Lawrence TD run in the final quarter. “I thought we busted it (for a score),” MacIntyre said. “But the guy barely grabbed his jersey. If not, he would’ve been gone again.”

This will be the season opener for Maine, which went 2-9 last season under coach Jordan Stevens, who is now in his second year at the school.

The Black Bears are a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. FIU, which hasn’t played Maine since 2003, is 2-2 all-time against CAA schools.

FIU is playing its home opener against an FCS opponent from New England for the second straight year after defeating Rhode Island’s Bryant University 38-37 in overtime last season.

FIU, which has won two straight home openers, has 55 new players on its roster.

Maine returns 11 starters from last season. The Black Bears enter Saturday on a five-game losing streak. However, those five losses were by an average of 3.4 points, including one that went to overtime. There were two one-point losses, one two-point defeat and one setback by four points.