116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — Things are seemingly upside-down for Northern Iowa through two games of its 2022 football season.
That upside-down feeling derives from a UNI (0-2, 0-1) defense that’s allowed 38.5 points per game and 564.5 yards per game while its passing offense leads the Missouri Valley Football Conference in yards per game (310).
While there’s a range of feasible realities that could have existed after road games at Air Force and Saturday’s 29-27 loss at North Dakota (1-1, 1-0), a defense in disarray and passing offense on the verge of becoming a juggernaut is not one that would’ve been on anyone’s proverbial bingo card.
Asked if it’s feeling like ‘Freaky Friday’ around the football offices, UNI Coach Mark Farley acknowledged as much with a laugh on Monday.
“Call it what you want,” Farley said. “It’s a good feeling when you see your sideline with the confidence it has on offense that maybe you haven’t seen in years past. But, we gave up the score. We gave up the third-and-10. We’ve got an offense that’s putting up points on the board to win, so we’ve got to clean up our defense and we will.”
Farley doesn’t think correcting his team’s defensive woes will require reinventing the wheel or making wholesale changes due to UNI’s amount of experienced starters.
“When I look out and see who’s out there, it isn’t like you’re saying you’ve got a bunch of freshmen out there,” Farley said. “I go back to the Air Force game. That one caused more damage than you think it did initially because of the style of offense that you play. It’s just two totally different things to defend and it did cause a ripple effect, but I did like to see that we did progress and started to show what we are, but we’re not there yet.”
Things don’t get any easier for the Panthers this week as they host 2021 Big Sky champion Sacramento State (1-0).
UNI upset the Hornets in Sacramento last season, 34-16, in what became a memorable first opportunity for Theo Day at quarterback. After Day helped lead a comeback win in the week 2 matchup last season, Sacramento State went on to win eight of its next nine regular-season games.
Headed into Saturday’s rematch at the UNI-Dome, the Hornets are coming off a bye week that was preceded by a week 1 win at home over Utah Tech, 56-33.
“It doesn’t matter which (quarterback) plays — they’re good,” Farley said. “They’ve got enough talent, they’ve got enough firepower and they’ve got enough play-calling ability that they can line up against anybody and move the football.”