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CEDAR FALLS — Jamison Whiting didn’t want to shake the hand of a reporter prior to an interview Monday afternoon at the UNI-Dome.
There was zero offense intended. The Northern Iowa cornerback had a legit reason for the lack of a physical greeting.
He’d just gotten a pin taken out of a fractured right index finger. Back to being a starter for the first time since he was a freshman, the senior from Minneapolis is having to deal with an injury that took him out of the lineup this past Saturday for the Missouri Valley Conference opener against Southern Illinois.
“It was the Eastern Washington game,” Whiting said. “I came in at halftime and looked, and my finger was all messed up.”
He didn’t practice at all during UNI’s bye week and was limited against SIU. This is a six-to-eight-week injury, so Whiting will have to tough it out.
Northern Iowa (2-2, 1-0) plays Saturday at South Dakota (1-3, 0-1).
“As long as it doesn’t get hurt too bad, I’ll be fine,” Whiting said. “As long as they don’t have to amputate it.”
Whiting was off to a good start for the Panthers, with 17 tackles and five pass breakups in their first three games. He played in 11 games and got five starts as a true freshman in 2013 but was relegated to mostly special teams duty as a sophomore and junior.
Blame the presence of Deiondre Hall and Makinton Dorleant for that. Both are in the NFL now, with Hall picking up his first career interception Sunday for the Chicago Bears.
Dorleant is on injured reserve with the Green Bay Packers.
“It’s different,” Whiting said. “You definitely want to play and get on the field, but it’s humbling playing behind D-Hall and Mac, probably the two best corners to come through here ... D-Hall got a pick yesterday for the Bears, and that was super cool to see. I texted him. I know Mac is hurt right now, but we’re all still pretty close. You definitely learn from them.”
UNI toyed with the idea of making Whiting a wide receiver after he returned from an injury as a freshman and then the offseason between his freshman and sophomore seasons. But that didn’t take.
“I can’t catch,” he said with a laugh.
Malcolm Washington took over starter’s duties for him against Southern Illinois and had a pick-six at the end of the first half. UNI Coach Mark Farley lauded Washington’s play at the weekly media luncheon Friday.
You kind of hope Whiting doesn’t become Wally Pipp again, especially considering his team-first attitude.
“Whenever I can help, that’s what I’m here for,” he said.
Video of the 42-21 win over SIU confirmed to Farley how well his team played, he said Monday. All three phases of the game were solid, though kicking continues to be an issue.
Matt Easley missed two field goals, including a 22-yarder. He and Austin Errthum have combined to make just 4 of 11 attempts this season.
With a conference as good as the MVC, Farley knows his team cannot afford to miss out on any opportunities for points moving forward. He said he would look at the kicking situation again this week before determining who his guy will be.
“The snap, the catch, the hold, the protection, timing, all of that,” Farley said. “Who’s doing the job, too. It’s just like any other position. You miss the tackle, you get replaced. You miss the kick, you get replaced. It goes with the territory.
“I’m not soft on kickers. They’re going to get the same emphasis as what a defender or a (position) player would get. But I want to make sure I look at all the other parts of that before I make a decision. What is actually causing the problem, or slowing the progress there?”
South Dakota is under the first-year leadership of head coach Bob Nielsen. The Linn-Mar graduate won a Division II national championship at Minnesota-Duluth and had successful stints at Wartburg and Western Illinois before going to Vermillion.
Junior quarterback Chris Streveler is USD’s leading passer and rusher. He’s a transfer from the University of Minnesota.
Kickoff Saturday is 2 p.m.
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