MVFC Previews: Northern Iowa

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Northern Iowa is coming off of their first losing season since 2002 (5-6). Head coach Mark Farley has done extremely well against Youngstown State since he took over the position in 2001. Farley’s teams have compiled an 11-1 mark against the Penguins. Last season, YSU scored the game’s final fourteen points to end their 11-game losing streak to UNI (42-35). With the Penguins’ failure to post victories consistently against the Panthers, one may be surprised to hear this nugget. In six of their last seven meetings, the games have been decided by eight points or less.

This year’s match up will take place at the UNI Dome, a place where the Penguins last won in 1999 (29-20 on October 27).

YSU vs. UNI: Last Five Meetings
Sept. 22, 2012 – Youngstown State, 42-35
Nov. 5, 2011 – Northern Iowa, 21-17
Oct. 30, 2010 – Northern Iowa, 34-30
Nov. 7, 2009 – Northern Iowa, 28-7
Oct. 25, 2008 – Northern Iowa, 21-20

Northern Iowa Panthers’ Football Preview
by Vince Pellegrini (@Vince_MYVS)
Head Coach: Mark Farley, 12th Season (104-46)
2012 Record: 5-6 (4-4), Missouri Valley Football Conference
2012 Post-Season Finish: Did Not Qualify
Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 6
Offense: Multiple
Defense: 4-3

2012 Team Statistics
Points Scored: 30.3 (333)
Passing Yards: 235.8 (2594)
Rushing Yards: 148.8 (1637)
Points Allowed: 21.4 (235)
Passing Yards Allowed: 196.3 (2159)
Rushing Yards Allowed: 142.3 (1565)

Returning Leaders
Passing: Sawyer Kollmorgen – 2460 yards, 59.1% (185-313), 21 TDs
Rushing: David Johnson – 178 att, 1021 yards, 13 TDs
Receiving: Brett LeMaster – 32 catches, 601 yards, 4 TDs
Tackles: Jake Farley – 85
Sacks: Mac O’Brien – 2.0

2013 Schedule
Aug. 31 – at Iowa State
Sept. 7 – Drake
Sept. 21 – at Northern Colorado
Sept. 28 – McNeese State
Oct. 5 – at North Dakota State
Oct. 12 – Southern Illinois
Oct. 19 – South Dakota
Oct. 26 – at South Dakota State
Nov. 2 – at Illinois State
Nov. 9 – Youngstown State
Nov. 16 – at Missouri State
Nov. 23 – Western Illinois

Offensive Strength: The Panthers return their starting quarterback and the 2012 MVFC Newcomer of the Year, Sawyer Kollmorgen (2460 yards, 59.1 Comp. %). Number 17 registered a 142.15 passing efficiency rating as he tossed 21 touchdowns last fall.

Offensive Weakness: The offensive line lost Tim Sauer, Misha Danilov, and Brian Palangi to graduation. Last year, the front five was able to clear holes for their runners to gain 4.5 yards per carry and to give their signal callers time to complete over 58% of their passes.

Defensive Strength: The defensive line appears to be a real strength of the Panthers’ 4-3 scheme. Seniors Chris Jepsen (1.5 sacks) and Mac O’Brien (25 tackles, 2 sacks) are back along the front while junior Xavier Williams (50 tackles) returns as well following a 2012 campaign which saw #98 block five kicks.

Defensive Weakness: The secondary will be relatively young following the departure of J.J. Swain (48 tackles, 2 interceptions), Varmah Sonie (59 tackles, 2 interceptions), Wilmot Wellington (85 tackles, 2 interceptions), and Garrett Scott (72 tackles).

Storylines Facing the Panthers
1. Junior Rusher Johnson Returns. David Johnson seeks another 1,000-yard season. Last year, #7 ran for 1,021 yards and scored 18 total touchdowns. Johnson also caught 32 passes for an average of 12 stripes per catch (383 yards).

2. Replenish the Secondary. With the influx of transfers, the secondary could prove to a strength by season’s end. Junior Ray Mitchell (Kansas) and sophomore Makinton Dorleant (Maryland) both seem on track to help the Panthers. Mitchell is a former Jayhawk Special Teams Player of the Year (2010).

3. Kollmorgen’s Next Step. The 6’2, 215-pound Kollmorgen threw for over 200 yards in 8 of Northern Iowa’s 11 games last season. He also completed 56.7% of his passes (38-67) against Big Ten competition (Wisconsin and Iowa). Sawyer’s highest yardage total came against Youngstown State when he threw for 333 yards and 3 scores in a 42-35 loss at the Ice Castle.

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