116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — For the first time since 2019, Northern Iowa is enjoying the consistency of a typical football calendar and that regularity has Coach Mark Farley encouraged.
What’s also encouraging to Farley — who spoke Tuesday during the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s second of two media days — is that this fall camp will be the first held on campus at UNI’s new outdoor practice facility.
The Panthers held their preseason camp at Memorial Stadium in Waterloo last fall while the new practice facility was under construction. The season prior to that, much of their camp was held at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex in Waterloo.
“Just that continuity, consistency, efficient use of time, logistics — all those things cause stress and take away energy from a practice. So, looking forward to being back having the dome, having our outdoor practice facility,” Farley said. “(And) being able to practice when we can practice because we’ve got lights outside.”
It’ll be important for the Panthers to capitalize on whatever advantages come from those logistics and answer big questions that loom before their Sept. 3 season-opener at Air Force.
First and foremost, will returning starting quarterback Theo Day reclaim his spot atop the depth chart?
Day, who transferred to UNI from Michigan State last summer, started the second half of the Panthers’ week 2 game at Sacramento State in favor of Will McElvain and never relinquished the spot despite being rushed into the playbook and game action.
“He needed to become comfortable in his environment and guys had to become comfortable with him (and) that takes time,” Farley said. “How he worked out (this summer) and what he did with extra things with the team I think will make a difference for him in his production and his play.”
Day and the rest of the UNI offense are working with new co-offensive coordinator Bodie Reeder. Reeder, who Farley said this spring collaborated with offensive line coach Ryan Clanton to build a new offense from the ground up, boasted an uncomplicated track record when the Panthers’ 22nd-year head coach sought him out.
“Points,” Farley said with a laugh. “Your defense helps your offense, no question a lot of times, but at the same time the production of your offense — if you can get ahead by a couple possessions — it makes you a whole better defensive coach in how you call a game. (Reeder) produced points in his past and we believe that we’ll produce points this year.”
UNI picked 5th in MVFC preseason poll, 9 Panthers named All-MVFC
UNI, coming off a 6-6 record and first-round FCS playoff exit in 2021, is picked to finish fifth in the MVFC’s annual preseason poll.
Defending conference and national champion North Dakota State was picked first with 39 of 41 first-place votes. The Bison were followed by South Dakota State, Missouri State and Southern Illinois. Behind the Panthers, from sixth to 11th, are South Dakota, North Dakota, Illinois State, Youngstown State, Indiana State and Western Illinois.
The MVFC also announced first- and second-team preseason all-conference honorees and nine Panthers were recognized.
First-team honorees included linebacker Spencer Cuvelier, safety Benny Sapp III and placekicker Matthew Cook.
Second-team honorees included center Erik Sorensen, defensive ends Caden Houghtelling and Devin Rice, linebacker Bryce Flater, defensive back Korby Sander and wide receiver/all-purpose Quan Hampton.