CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa’s spring practice injuries — along with injuries still healing from the end of last season — will prevent an anticipated spring football game from happening, Coach Mark Farley said.
“We tried, but if you really look at what’s going on, it’s hard to complete spring games anymore,” Farley said. “We’re very conscious of the fans that want to know what’s going on and see what’s going on, so that last Saturday (April 27) from 1 'til 3 we’ll have a (open) practice.
“When you got 17 guys out, that stinks. They’re all be back in the fall, so that’s the upside. We’re designing practices to bring a football team along that includes the 17 guys that are hurt, not just working with the 50-some-odd guys that are out there.”
Iowa and Iowa State announced earlier they, too, would not be holding spring games.
Essentially at the halfway point of its spring season, UNI continues to embrace a three-way quarterback competition that will include a fourth competitor when Justin Fomby, a three-star recruit from Georgia, arrives this summer.
For now, returnees Jacob Keller and Will McElvain, along with freshman early enrollee Nate Martens, are equally splitting practice reps. Farley said none of the three have separated themselves, but acknowledges that not tilting reps in any player’s favor can make the opportunity for gaining separation difficult.
“You can say one day one guy is better than the other, but it’s more (about) a body of work right now,” Farley said. “The focus isn’t to figure out who the starter is, the focus is to get them to all understanding what they’re doing. Because in college football right now (it’s) very seldom you’ll get through the season with one quarterback.”
Farley added drop-back passing and drop-back coverage are the two areas that will need to come the furthest by the time the season opener arrives on Aug. 31. But he also likes what he’s seen from his team’s intelligence within its schemes this spring.
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“You've got to get to the reactionary part of the game as quickly as possible,” Farley said. “Then of course the second phase of that is getting into individual and teaching on the field so you know how to execute a technique when you get to the point of attack.”
Along with the reported injuries before spring practices began — a list that includes running back Trevor Allen, offensive linemen Mason Neisen and Nick Ellis, wide receiver Isaiah Weston, linebacker Chris Kolarevic and defensive lineman Jared Brinkman — safety Korby Sander, tight end Alex Allen, linebacker Alfonzo Lambert and wide receiver Nick Fossey have been ruled out for the remainder of spring practices.