FCS programs made a big splash Week 1 of the 2013 season, notching eight upset wins over FBS schools, a record for most wins against the FBS against a lower level in a single weekend. One of those teams was the Northern Iowa Panthers, who pulled out a 28-20 upset over the Iowa State Cyclones to open the 2013 season. Here's what you need to know about Northern Iowa before they come to Aloha Stadium in Week 3:
COACH: Mark Farley
Entering his 14th season at the helm of the Panthers program, Mark Farley has put Northern Iowa football back on the map. Farley grew up just two hours from UNI in Waukon, Iowa, where he was a three-sport star at Waukon High School. He would then walk-on to the football team at UNI and become the starting linebacker for three years for the Panthers. In that time, he would lead the team in tackles, earn Academic All-American honors twice, and a two-time honorable mention on the All-American team.
After graduation, Farley would go straight to a Graduate Assistant position with Northern Iowa before being promoted to a full-time assistant in 1989. During his time on staff, UNI won seven straight Missouri Valley Football Conference titles and appeared in seven consecutive FCS Playoffs. After Head Coach Terry Allen chose to leave Cedar Falls for Lawrence, Kansas, for the Kansas Jayhawks job in 1997, Farley followed and was the linebackers coach at Kansas from 1997-2000.
He would then take the Head Coaching job at his Alma Mater in 2001, leading the Panthers to seven FCS Playoff appearances, six seasons of 10 or more win seasons and 115 wins in his 13 seasons in Cedar Falls.
CONFERENCE: Missouri Valley Football Conference
LOCATION: Cedar Falls, Iowa
2013 SCHEDULE/RESULTS: 7-5 (3-5 MVFC)
|Saturday, August 31||@ Iowa State||W 28-20||(1-0)|
|Saturday, September 7||Drake||W 45-15||(2-0)|
|Saturday, September 14||BYE||N/A|
|Saturday, September 21||@ Northern Colorado||W 27-6||(3-0)|
|Saturday, September 28||McNeese State||W 41-6||(4-0)|
|Saturday, October 5||@ North Dakota State||L 23-24||(4-1, 0-1 MVFC)|
|Saturday, October 12||Southern Illinois||L 17-24 (OT)||(4-2, 0-2 MVFC)|
|Saturday, October 19||South Dakota||L 31-38 (2OT)||(4-3, 0-3 MVFC)|
|Saturday, October 26||@ South Dakota State||L 34-37 (2OT)||(4-4, 0-4 MVFC)|
|Saturday, November 2||@ Illinois State||L 3-13||(4-5, 0-5 MVFC)|
|Saturday, November 9||Youngstown State||W 22-20||(5-5, 1-5 MVFC)|
|Saturday, November 16||@ Missouri State||W 17-10||(6-5, 2-5 MVFC)|
|Saturday, November 23||Western Illinois||W 28-13||
(7-5, 3-5 MVFC)
FIVE PLAYERS YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING OUT FOR:
1. Sawyer Kollmorgen, Junior Quarterback, (6-2, 215), 2013 Stats: 1,824 Passing Yards, 62.9% Completion, 14 TDs
After a breakout Freshman year, where he finished near the top of the MVFC in total offense and collected several other accolades, Sawyer Kollmorgen looked to be one of the best Quarterbacks in the conference in 2013. A season-ending concussion forced him out of the final three games of the season, but his performance put him on the top-ten lists for career touchdown passes (7th/35) and career passing yards (9th/4,284) at Northern Iowa. Now back for his Junior season, Kollmorgen can make a case for being not only one of the best in the Missouri Valley. but in the FCS.
2. David Johnson, Senior Running Back, (6-3, 225), 2013 Stats: 222 carries, 1,286 rushing yards, 10 TDs
When Sawyer Kollmorgen went down the last few weeks of the season, the bulk of the offensive production fell onto David Johnson, who didn't disappoint. Johnson turned in his second 1,000+ yard season with seven different 100+ yard performances on the year, including a 199 yard, 2 TD outing in the Panthers Week 1 upset of Iowa State. He's received preseason first-team honors on both All-America and Missouri Valley teams, and should have one of this best years in Cedar Falls in 2014.
3. Jack Rummells, Senior Offensive Lineman, (6-5, 301), 2013 Stats: N/A
With over 30 starts on his resume, Rummells is the most tenured offensive lineman on the Panthers roster. He was a part of an offensive line that allowed only 16 sacks in 2013, and helped the UNI rushing attack to 1,962 yards last season. Rummells has also been selected to The Sport Network's preseason All-America First Team.
4. Xavier Williams, Senior Defense Lineman, (6-4, 311), 2013 Stats: 74 Tackles, 5.5 Sacks, 12.0 Tackles for Loss
The biggest body on the Panthers defensive line, Williams has left a lasting impact during his time at UNI. In 2012, he set a school-record for blocking five kicks in five different games. The next season he was top three on the team in tackles, sacks, and tackles for loss, and with the loss of Seniors Collin Albrecht and Chris Jepsen, "X" will be looked at as the leader of the Panthers defense.
5. Jake Farley, Senior Linebacker, (6-2, 230), 2013 Stats: 56 Tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.0 Tackles for loss
Don't let the stats fool you, Jake Farley could be the best linebacker on the team and one of the best in the front seven for the Panthers. Through five games last year, he was averaging 11.2 tackles a game and was on pace for a career year until a broken leg sidelined him for the rest of 2013. Now back for his Senior year, the son of Coach Mike Farley will be a key part of the UNI defense for 2014.
With Sawyer Kollmorgen returning for his Junior year, and hopefully at 100%, the Panthers passing attack should be a consistent threat to opposing secondaries. 10 starters will be returning for the offense, including the top five receivers from last year, so Kollmorgen will have no shortage of targets to look for. On the ground, the return of David Johnson will put the UNI rushing attack not only at the top of the Missouri Valley, but all of FCS. He'll be able to work behind the four returning offensive lineman that helped the Panthers to almost 2,000 rushing yards in 2013.
The biggest weapon for the Northern Iowa in the front seven is Xavier Williams, the 300-plus pound defensive tackle will pressure Quarterbacks all game long and cause havoc in the pocket. In the experienced secondary, Ray Mitchell returns as the Interception leader from last year, with four picks (two for touchdowns) and seven pass deflections. Jake Farley and Max Busher are the top two returning linebackers, combining for 131 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. Now with Farley returning from injury, the production from the LBs should increase significantly in 2014.
If David Johnson has early success against the Defense that allowed an average 214 rushing yards a game, it'll be a long day for new Defensive Coordinator Kevin Clune. Beau Yap should be able to get through the line and create pressure for Sawyer Kollmorgen, but the UNI offense line should keep him off the turf more often than not.
Offensively, the easiest way for Hawaii to have success is to run it opposite of Xavier Williams. Joey Ioesefa can have success if he is able to get outside of the tackle box and display the same speed when he was healthy in 2011. Four of five starters returning for the Warriors O-Line should keep Ikaika Woolsey's jersey clean, so Hawaii's offense should have more success in this game compared to their first two match-ups with Washington and Oregon State. This will be the first close game for the Warriors in 2014, but they'll be able to match their win total from 2013. Hawaii 34, Northern Iowa 30