UNI Panthers

UNI football takeaways: These Panthers are having fun

Will McElvain steps up, Omar Brown lives up to the hype, and more

Aug 31, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Northern Iowa Panthers wide receiver Deion McShane (4) celebrates with offensive lineman Spencer Brown (76) and offensive lineman Trevor Penning (70) after scoring a touchdown against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones won 29-26 in three overtimes. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 31, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Northern Iowa Panthers wide receiver Deion McShane (4) celebrates with offensive lineman Spencer Brown (76) and offensive lineman Trevor Penning (70) after scoring a touchdown against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones won 29-26 in three overtimes. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

CEDAR FALLS — After a 34-14 home-opening win over Southern Utah on Saturday, Northern Iowa coach Mark Farley met the media Monday.

Here’s what we learned:

This team is having fun

Farley was candid in his explanation of the fun his team is having after Saturday’s win. He even made reference to the sideline being fun in week 1 despite the triple-overtime loss to Iowa State.

Farley explained the dynamics that have gone into the good vibes within his team.

“We’ve been fortunate this year because of the makeup — people call it chemistry,” Farley said. “I try to feed off it and let it feed itself, and play to it. Right now the strength of this team is really personality. There’s a good cohesion of what the players are like and what the coaches are like.”

Will McElvain answered Farley’s call

A week ago, after watching film of the Iowa State, loss Farley praised McElvain’s ability to extend plays but said he needed to be better at consistently delivering the ball on time and from the pocket. Saturday, McElvain answered his head coach’s call with a performance that earned him MVFC newcomer of the week honors

“I thought Will’s drop-back game was much better this week than it was last week because he stood in the pocket, he stayed in the pocket, and he threw for first downs in a drop-back game,” Farley said.

Multiple defensive fronts paying dividends

Historically when UNI plays multiple defensive fronts it has taken a few weeks before Farley and defensive coordinator Jeremiah Johnson have reached a comfort level to switch between those fronts in-game. This season the Panthers have had success doing just that from their first game.

“It helps us because it creates some problems for the offense that they have to prepare for the two fronts,” Farley said. “We can do those things because our players are intelligent and we’ve also had it in with enough time to understand it so we can develop it.”

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Omar Brown is living up to the hype

Two weeks into fall camp, Brown received praise from Farley, who said he expected the freshman defensive back to make an impact this season. Through two games the Minneapolis, Minn., native is third on the team with 20 tackles, has two pass breakups and grabbed his first interception in the third quarter of Saturday’s win.

“His production grade has been very good for the amount of times he’s been attacked,” Farley said. “I also know that he needs a lot of work, because the more he’s on the field the more (opponents) are going to go after him.”

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