CEDAR FALLS — After a gut-wrenching 29-26 triple-overtime loss to Iowa State on Saturday, Northern Iowa football coach Mark Farley met the media Tuesday.
Here’s what we learned:
Briley Moore’s injury is serious
Along with their tough loss to the Cyclones, the Panthers were dealt another blow when all-conference tight end Briley Moore was lost to an injury in the first half. Moore later reappeared on the UNI sideline with his left arm in a sling.
Farley didn’t provide a timeline for Moore’s return on Tuesday, but a quick recovery does not sound likely.
“It’ll probably be a while,” Farley said. “Right now, we won’t know with the holiday (Monday) for (sure), but it may be an extended injury so we’ll see what happens.”
Will McElvain has room to improve
UNI quarterback Will McElvain dazzled a sellout crowd at Jack Trice Stadium with his ability to escape the pocket and extend plays. Farley remained complimentary of his redshirt freshman signal-caller after watching the film but offered a critique of his performance.
“There’s no question he gave us many opportunities by extending plays, but we should be getting the ball out sooner and quicker,” Farley said. “And we need to get the ball in some guys’ hands to make plays so they can get some runs after catches. What I was pleased with is the ability of Will to get away from very good football players. What Will needs to work on is getting the ball out on time against very good football players. We’ll start working (on) that process today because he cannot rely on that phase of the game. That’s going to make his game better, but it can’t be his game.”
Xavior Williams at free safety may not be permanent
Junior defensive back Xavior Williams made his first career start at free safety against Iowa State and had an excellent game, scoring on a 53-yard fumble return and breaking up three passes. Williams practiced at the position throughout the spring, but only sparingly during fall camp. Despite his standout performance Farley said Tuesday that Williams’ placement at the position may not be permanent.
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“That’s a game-to-game, might be a play-to-play thing,” Farley said. “Credit Xavior — his intelligence and experience allow (us) to do some multiple things with him right now.”
Running game is a work in progress
UNI averaged just 1.1 yards per carry on 45 attempts against Iowa State. The Cyclones offered the Panthers the toughest front seven they’ll go up against this season, but Farley wasn’t using that as an excuse when he spoke about the running struggles Tuesday.
“We did not play at the line of scrimmage as well as I thought we could have,” Farley said. “It had a lot to do with what (Iowa State does), but it also had a lot to do with what we didn’t do well.