UNI Panthers

UNI football preparing for best Iowa State team it has faced in Mark Farley era

A decision has been made at QB, but not kicker

Northern Iowa head coach Mark Farley shakes hands with Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell after a  game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Scott Morgan/Freelance)
Northern Iowa head coach Mark Farley shakes hands with Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell after a game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Scott Morgan/Freelance)

CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa football coach Mark Farley said Monday the Panthers will do nothing out of the ordinary to prepare redshirt freshman quarterback Will McElvain for Saturday’s opener.

“No, why would you (change)?” Farley said, responding to a question about getting a new quarterback ready for the challenge of No. 21 Iowa State. “We’ll go about our business the same way.”

After 2 1/2 seasons with a pocket-passing QB, the decision to start McElvain, an athletic and agile QB with an ability to extend plays, is something Farley alluded to in the spring as necessary in today’s era of college football.

“... When you get down to those final games, the guy that can improvise when things start to break down because the way defenses are playing and the way the offenses are set up,” Farley said, “ ... that quarterback is going to have to improvise a little bit.”

While the Panthers have settled on a QB, their starter at kicker remains unknown. Farley said Monday senior Sam Drysdale (hip) is out for Saturday’s game and only recently began kicking again. Freshman Matthew Cook continues to draw praise from Farley, but he said Monday the decision between Cook and sophomore Nate Murphy could come Saturday during pregame warmups.

“I’ll make the choice of who the starter is probably Wednesday or Thursday. I may pick it on gameday. (I’ve) done that before,” Farley said. “To me with kicking, a lot like quarterback, everyone looks good at practice sometimes, but you get them in a game situation (and) there’s a lot of stress that goes with (that).”

In his 19th year, and set to play Iowa State for the 12th time, Farley said without hesitation this year’s Cyclone team will be the best he’s gone up against.

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“They’re confident, they’re competitive, (and) when I say that it’s compared to other teams we’ve played down there,” Farley said. “They have that internal mechanism that really makes them good besides just the talent on the field. I noticed that the last time we played them.”

The results of a number of camp battles were put to rest, for now, after the release of the Panthers two-deep Monday. Bryce Flater will start at inside linebacker next to Spencer Cuvelier. Micah Mayberry, Jevon Brekke and Christian Jegen will start in the defensive backfield along with returning All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honoree Xavior Williams. Linebacker Chris Kolarevic (foot) is doubtful for Saturday’s game.

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