116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS - Despite a pair of solid starts from Justin Fomby and a 34-20 win at Western Illinois this past Saturday, Northern Iowa head coach Mark Farley said Will McElvain - who's returning to practice this week after a two-week COVID-19 quarantine - is the Panthers' starting quarterback.
'In this conversation, I'd say Will is the quarterback unless something shows up that I'm not aware of or something rears its head that's something we've got to be conscious of,” Farley said. 'I would project that Will would be the starter come this (Friday) if I had to answer the question today.”
In his two starts, Fomby completed 63 percent of his 52 attempts, while averaging 216.5 passing yards per game. Farley said the experience the redshirt freshman from Georgia got was valuable and sets him up for further opportunities.
'There's a lot of things that showed up with Justin that said, ‘Wow, he's further along than what I anticipated by watching him on (the) scout team,'” Farley said. 'We really got to find out a lot about Justin. I think Justin got to find out a lot about Justin. Now we can expedite his growth by having the knowledge that we have after these past two games.”
Beyond the quarterback position, UNI continues to be affected by injuries.
Offensive lineman Justin Peine left Saturday's win against WIU with a lower-body injury, as did running back Dom Williams and wide receiver Deion McShane.
'It's a long training room list right now,” Farley said. 'Questionable (for Friday) is the right word to use.”
Farley also revealed this week that former UNI head coach Terry Allen (1989-1996) is on staff as a volunteer assistant in analytics.
With former offensive coordinator Ryan Mahaffey accepting a job with the Green Bay Packers shortly before the spring season-opener, and running backs coach Nick Danielson and his wife giving birth to their first child the week of UNI's game at Youngstown State, the fit with Allen was too good to say no.
'I didn't want to hire anybody, so what I wanted to do was get somebody that could come in here, that knew our program, that this program was important to. It was more so bringing a person that really understood UNI and UNI football,” Farley said. 'He's just another set of eyes, particularly when we're going through the shortage of coaches.”
UNI is back on the road again this week and faces a short turnaround with a 6 p.m. kickoff Friday night against South Dakota (1-3). The Coyotes' game last week against North Dakota State was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols. USD also had its season-opener against Western Illinois postponed due to COVID-19, and since an upset win at Illinois State in Week 2, the Coyotes have lost their last three against North Dakota, Missouri State and Youngstown State.
'The real challenge is getting the bodies back that quickly and two road games back-to-back,” Farley said. 'Probably the biggest challenge is that South Dakota did not play last week - because they would have been coming off a game, too, and probably a really physical game coming out of North Dakota State, but that didn't happen.”