116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — After reviewing the game film, Mark Farley’s report card of his team’s performance in a 16-10 season-opening loss to No. 9 Iowa State was a passing grade.
“We played well,” Farley said. “We made mistakes along the way in the first football game, but as far as standing the test and looking at the physicality of the game, looking at weighing who the opponent was, those types of things, we played good enough to win the football game had we played to our level of what we can.”
Holding Heisman Trophy candidate Breece Hall to 69 yards on 23 carries had Farley praising his defensive line and linebackers during Tuesday’s news conference. He was also optimistic about an offense that showed flashes, but was shut out by Iowa State’s defense in the second half.
“Offensively, I thought we should have run the ball better than we did,” Farley said. “I wish we would have run it more, because when we did run it we were moving the line of scrimmage the way we hoped to.
“It was the sacks that got us in trouble and it was a couple penalties that took some drives away from us that hurt us.”
Despite those sacks and penalties, Farley was pleased with the performance of quarterback Will McElvain.
The third-year starter — who kept his job despite a preseason quarterback competition — continued to show his head coach improvement in needed areas. That’s even after taking a sack on his first pass attempt due to a snap-count mix-up.
“I saw improvement in Will. I saw him step up in the pocket,” Farley said. “(Matthew) Vanderslice never heard the snap count and that’s why (Will McDonald) had the free hit. So you kind of worry about, oh man is he going to go back to scrambling because he got hit early, then he steps up in the pocket. He’s throwing the ball on time. He’s throwing to the targets that are open.”
The Panthers got out of Ames largely unscathed on the injury front. Tight end Jayden Scott and linebacker Bryce Flater each held up after being limited during camp. Scott rotated with Kyle Fourtenbary, while Flater rotated with Riley Van Whye.Most notably, wide receiver Logan Wolf re-aggravated a hamstring injury during the second half and is questionable for this week’s game at Sacramento State (8 p.m., ESPN+).
The Hornets, who won 19-7 at Dixie State in Week 1, were picked fifth in the Big Sky’s preseason poll and still have many players on their roster that were part of the 2019 team that won a conference championship.
“What I see from them is an offense that really stretches the width of the field and the depth of the field,” Farley said. “Defensively, (it’s) a very aggressive system.”