CEDAR FALLS — For the first time in a decade UNI will play a regular-season game on a Thursday. The Panthers will travel to Terre Haute, Ind., to take on Indiana State — which went winless last season — in the MVFC’s conference-opening game on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.
MVFC commissioner Patty Viverito said during Monday’s league teleconference that the Thursday night opener is a “one-time thing” and not a sign of a future pattern. Viverito also said that when the league scheduled the Thursday-night tilt, UNI had yet to schedule its third non-conference opponent, which turned out to be Hampton in week four, only five days before it will travel to Terre Haute to take on the Sycamores.
Head coach Mark Farley said the preference was to schedule their third non-conference game in what became an open week two, acknowledging the challenges that come with such a short turnaround.
“Yeah there’s no question, and that’s one of the things I look at when I look at the schedule,” Farley said. “You can schedule yourself into great position and you can schedule yourself into tough positions. So, our schedule this year with that open date in the second week will give us a week in there to make some adjustments after one game, but that short turnaround to Indiana State, there’s no question, will be a challenge playing on a Thursday night in the middle of the week after our first home game.”
Playoff Committee improves 'nationalizing' bracket
Now three years removed from the 2015 FCS Playoffs debacle that put all five qualifying MVFC teams on the same side of the bracket, Viverito is proud of the progress that’s been made in the selection process. Viverito said, “the committee did a much better job of nationalizing the bracket,” and Farley agreed.
“There’s some restrictions that the NCAA has put in, in every sport not just football, of how to control costs and that’s regional (matchups),” Farley said. “Since our (conference) has become so strong, through Patty, of speaking to the committee and the NCAA, she really moved the needle, and gave us a chance to get multiple teams in. And not only multiple teams but in different brackets so that we all had a chance. So that we had two schools potentially that could make it to the championship game.”
Fall campus focus on attitude
After adding seven new coaches to last year’s staff, Farley enters 2018 fall camp with little turnover on his roster or staff. Without that turnover to consider, the 18th-year head coach said ultimately the team’s preparation during camp goes beyond any X’s and O’s.
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“This team is different than any other,” Farley said. “I think the challenge of every year is to figure out who you have, and really what makes them play to another level and what makes them function better (and) work together. It’s always about the attitudes. It’s about the emotion you play the game with. So we’ll go back to basics here. We’re not going to out-scheme anybody. We’re going to have to lineup and out-play people.”