UNI fixes things ‘between the ears’ before Western Illinois

Ethan Petrick

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Northern Iowa’s Vance McShane (20) runs for yards while dodging a tackle from Sacramento State’s Cameron Broussard at UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

Cedar Falls — the Northern Iowa Panthers sit 0-3 for the first time since 1969 — seven years before season one at UNI-Dome.

UNI coach Mark Farley criticized missed tackles after the Panthers’ recent loss — a 37-21 stumble at home against Sacramento State.

However, Farley said on Monday he saw a lack of composure when the Hornets executed a quick attack as the biggest difference between last year’s top defense and the same unit this season.

“Everyone wants to look different,” Farley said. “Last year’s team…we went to East Washington and were in the same situation when they went fast. We lost our composure a little bit. We gave up on a big campaign. Then we went straight back and settled down and played good defense again.”

However, he added, more than just missed interventions plagued UNI’s very poor defense.

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Northern Iowa’s Christian Boyd wraps around Sacramento State’s Cameron Skatebo as he runs ball at UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

“When you lose your cool because of how fast you play, you get caught up in the moment. You don’t think about how fast you should act, you don’t react as quickly as you should, and therefore you don’t look as good as you should be,” Farley said. of missed interventions. … What is the reason behind it is what needs to be addressed.”

During their first three games, the Panthers allowed the 10th most yards per game and the third most dashing yards among the FCS. The Panthers defense struggled to walk off the field late in the games, allowing a pair of long strokes to decide the game in back-to-back losses.

During his press conference following the loss to Sack State, Farley said the solution to taking the opponent off the field is to tackle rather than “hold on” as the runner gains extra yards after contact. He said that the features of the heart is a key component of proper treatment.

On Monday, Farley said the defenders need to handle every deal with an appropriate situation, and he intends to instill that attitude as the Panthers prepare for their upcoming game against Western Illinois.

It can be infused into anyone,” Farley said. “You have to fix between the ears and what’s in the heart before you can fix it in the field. You have to locate your problem before you solve the problem. That’s what we do.”

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A pass to Tysen Kershaw, northern Iowa (13) was cut by Sacramento’s Jace O’Hara at UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

The results will come with hard work all week and going into Saturday’s game with the right mindset. Once the Panthers figure out how to consistently do both, they’ll become the team Farley knows they can do.

“We didn’t play the four quarters of the football I wanted,” Farley said. “I’ve seen some good insults, but I’ve seen some things we can clean up when attacking. I’ve seen good defense, but there are some things we can clean up. However, I don’t think we’re anywhere near what we can be.”

He wants his team to focus on the day-to-day process of getting better rather than on their track record or that of their opponents.

“You should never talk about winning or losing,” Farley said. “You should only talk about what you need to work on. These are the teams that are doing really well.”

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Northern Iowa player Logan Wolff runs the ball while avoiding diving tackles from Sacramento State’s Jess O’Hara at UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

That message will come in handy on Saturday as the Panthers face the unmatched Leathernecks in Game Two of the Missouri Valley Football Conference of the season.

Western Illinois welcomes the return of Myers Hendrickson, former Leathernecks wide receiver — son of former WIU coach and UNI wide receiver Mark Henderickson — as its new head coach.

During their first three games, the Leathernics struggled on both sides of the ball, ranking in the bottom 50% of the FCS in both attack and overall defense.

WIU allowed the opposition to run yards in the air and on the ground, allowing 305.3 yards per game and 229.0 lunges.

As for attacking, expectations don’t improve much as Leathernics mustered just 85.0 yards per game on the ground. However, WIU has a top 50 passing offense with 225.3 yards per game.

While the scrolling game seems like a strength, there is some uncertainty in the quarterback. Two players – Henry Ojala and Nick Davenport – started this season’s game and another – Clay Bruno – replaced Davenport early in the second quarter of last week.

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A driveway to Deion McShane, northern Iowa, was cut by Sacramento’s Dillon Juniel at UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

In addition to their struggle to move the ball, the Leathernics have one of the worst turning margins in the country (-6) – a fact highlighted by their four moves in last week’s 17-10 loss to Southern Utah.

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