UNI Panthers

UNI football takeaways: What the Panthers need to clean up after North Dakota State loss

Path to first round bye now has little margin for error

Northern Iowa Panthers players take the field before their game against the Youngstown State Penguins at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Northern Iowa Panthers players take the field before their game against the Youngstown State Penguins at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR FALLS — Now what?

The Bison blueprint proved successful for the 27th consecutive time last Saturday as top-ranked North Dakota State (6-0, 2-0) extended its winning streak by pulling away late from 14th-ranked Northern Iowa (3-3, 2-0) for a 46-14 win.

UNI’s path to a coveted first round bye in the FCS playoffs likely will require it to win at least five of its six remaining Missouri Valley Football Conference games.

But there’s some things the Panthers need to clean up.

Trailing 25-14 with just over nine minutes to go in the third quarter of Saturday’s loss, UNI senior receiver Jaylin James dropped a would-be touchdown that would have put the Panthers back within one possession. After James’ drop, freshman kicker Matthew Cook missed a 37-yard field goal, his second miss of the game.

“You’ve got to be within a score (in) every game,” UNI Coach Mark Farley said Monday during his weekly news conference. “As soon as you get two possessions (behind) with the way (NDSU) handles their offense — and they’re always winning time of possession — then it becomes a continual hammering of 22 (two back and two tight end) personnel. I don’t know if it’s fatigue as much as it is mental frustration fatigue.”

Against the top-ranked team, margin for error shrinks.

Farley said James is harder on himself than anyone and he said Cook is good at making whenever he’s met with adversity.

“Kicking, to me, is a lot like golfing,” Farley said. “That swing can change a little bit each day, each quarter, each round. Whatever that swing is that day, he’s got to be able to correct it as he progresses through the game.”

Notes

l Redshirt freshman QB Will McElvain completed 15 of 29 passes for 233 yards and one touchdown in Saturday’s loss while not committing a turnover.

In his postgame remarks Farley said McElvain played “good” in a hostile environment, but said Monday he’s more interested in seeing results.

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“I think we’ve got to stay away from projecting what can happen. It’s, what are we going to make happen?” Farley said. “The thing we need to do is understand what happened. Get an understanding of what we should have corrected during that game and then how do we start moving forward after looking back at what’s on film for all our games.”

l Third-string running back Alphonso Soko, who left Saturday’s game in the first half with an injury, was ruled out for the rest of the season by Farley on Monday with what he called a “lower body injury.”

Trevor Allen (lower body) is probable for Saturday’s game against South Dakota.

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