ORONO – Execution will be Warren Smith’s main focus in his return at quarterback for the University of Maine football team Saturday against Monmouth.

Smith was pulled at halftime in Maine’s 3-0 season-opening loss against Albany last week in favor of former Portland High standout Chris Treister.

Although neither QB led a scoring drive, Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove said Smith will keep the ball.

“I want to bounce back and respond,” said Smith. “It was tough. I was missing throws I usually make.

“Coach made a decision and you’ve got to respect it. I supported Chris, told him what I was seeing from the defense.”

Cosgrove said he slept on a decision and determined Smith should remain the starter after earning the job at the close of preseason.

Smith’s outing was uncharacteristic, with an interception on his first pass. He completed just 5 of 13 passes.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Cosgrove. “We’ll give him a chance to improve his play.

“It was the last thing I thought was going to happen. It was mystifying. We hadn’t seen that (from Smith) before. The execution was off.”

Smith said he’s already put the performance behind him and will focus on executing the little things.

“Right away. You have to,” he said. “We’ve got to execute and make better decisions at quarterback.”

Smith said he will have about 100 friends and family in the stands for Saturday’s 1 p.m. game. He grew up in south New Jersey about 30 minutes from the Monmouth campus in West Long Branch.

He was not recruited by Monmouth and has a best friend from high school who starts at fullback for the Hawks.

A transfer from the disbanded Iona football program, Smith said he has never played a college game in his home state.

His teammates said they have faith he will respond and they will see the gamer who had Maine beating Syracuse at halftime last year.

“I see more calmness in him,” said receiver Tyrell Jones. “I think he might’ve worked too hard off the field last week. I think he’s calm.”

Fullback Jared Turcotte, who is expected to play despite suffering a hip injury in the opener, agreed with Jones.

“(Smith has) come out ready to practice,” said Turcotte.

NOTE: Maine’s captains this week will be Turcotte and linebackers Mark Masterson and Ryan McCrossan. It is the second straight week teammates have voted in McCrossan.

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

[email protected]