116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — After a 27-point outburst in the third quarter of Saturday night’s win at Sacramento State — led by backup quarterback Theo Day — Northern Iowa football coach Mark Farley wasn’t ready to announce Monday who this week’s starter will be.
“As I sit (here) right now on the depth chart it says either, or. I think it’s obvious Theo had a great game. I’ll make that final choice here before we go to practice (Tuesday),” Farley said. “I was very pleased with (Day’s) demeanor and how prepared he was for the game. He had a calm approach to what he was doing. He handled the huddle well. All those things were the things you would not have known unless you got him in a (game) situation.”
Despite the non-announcement, Farley’s cascade of compliments for Day seem to indicate the Michigan State transfer will be under center for the Panthers’ home-opener Saturday against St. Thomas (1-0) at 4 p.m. (ESPN3).
While Day stole the headlines in the 34-16 win against the Hornets, UNI’s running game had its first 200-plus yard effort since a 38-7 defeat of Western Illinois on Nov. 23, 2019.
Starter Dom Williams led the way with 97 yards on 16 carries. Vance McShane and Bradrick Shaw racked up 65 and 38 yards, respectively, while the group combined for 5.2 yards per carry.
Asked about their performance Monday, Farley acknowledged a scheme change under offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and the influx of transfers at the position — Williams, McShane and Shaw — were key to Saturday night’s breakthrough.
“(The scheme) is different. We’ve been ramping up toward this. I do think the things that we did in the offseason made a big difference,” Farley said. “You’ve got four tailbacks that can alternate in there so you can be fresh. You can do some things because you’re not worried about getting nicked up for the next game because you have quality and depth.”
Saturday’s win wasn’t without an equally impressive performance by UNI’s defense. The unit produced six takeaways — three interceptions and three fumbles — and middle linebacker Spencer Cuvelier was recognized as the STATS Perform FCS national defensive player of the week after a 15 tackle performance with two of the Panthers’ forced fumbles and one of the recoveries.
“We didn’t have complete control and we got out of situations because of turnovers. We made great plays,” Farley said. “The turnovers kept us in the game in the first half. In the second half, when everything ignited with the excitement and everything that happened, then the other four turnovers took hold because we were getting good field position for the offense.”
Wide receiver Logan Wolf (hamstring) remains questionable this week while offensive lineman Matthew Vanderslice (undisclosed) is probable.