Fact or Fiction: UNI Football

courtesy http://boxscorenews.com/northern-iowa-football-fall-in-doubleovertime-at-sdsu-p66248-100.htm

Throughout the UNI football and men’s basketball seasons The Sportsguy Gary Rima, Cole Bair and J.T. Nutt will offer their insights and analysis in a ‘fact or fiction’ series.

FACT OR FICTION: Sawyer Kollmorgen will start every game for the Panthers…

The Sportsguy: FICTION — First of all the question is assuming that Sawyer will be the starting QB for UNI this season, and we all know what happens when you “assume!”

As of this writing Coach Farley hasn’t announced his starting QB for the season opener vs Iowa on Aug. 30. But no matter who the starting QB is, in Mark Farley’s first 13 years as head coach, I believe it has taken 2 QB’s to get through every season. Remember some of them….Petrie/Jurgens, Petrie/Sanders, Sanders/Grace, Grace/Davis, Rennie/Davis, Rennie/Lanpher, Kollmorgen/Lanpher and now Kollmorgen/Carnes.

courtesy http://boxscorenews.com/university-northern-iowa-football-wins-on-the-road-defeats-northern-color-p63224-68.htm

I say whoever is the game one starter, the odds are they don’t start every game and it doesn’t necessarily have to be due to an injury, it could be a coaches decision due to a particular match up.

Cole Bair: FACT — I think it’s safe to say that the signs are pointing toward Kollmorgen being thee number one quarterback for the Panthers this fall.

Brion Carnes played admirably after Kollmorgen was shut down due to concussions last season, but he only completed 51 percent of his passes. Kollmorgen completed nearly 62 percent of his attempts, and given the weaponry at the quarterbacks disposal this year, Kollmorgen seems like the best fit.

The junior to be does a great job spreading the ball around. And the health among the tight end group this season should only help Sawyer become more efficient.

If injuries are avoided, and UNI is playing competitively, Sawyer Kollmorgen should start all 12 regular season games.

J.T. NuttFACT — Brion Carnes will get his snaps, but he will not get the starts.

The line should be better. And Sawyer is a year smarter in the pocket.

His presence in the post-game press conference is nothing like I have ever dealt with.  He’s calm and intimidating at the same time.  I swear dude goes minutes without blinking.  It’s like the disposition of a psychopath…but I mean that in a good way.  Not like Slingblade.  But a quiet confidence and an unnatural charisma.  A guy you would want on your side in a football game or dark alley.

Also, Sawyer IS the same guy that nearly won the game in Madison.  He’s your typical Farley QB. Even if Mark does love himself a good quarterback controversy.

FACT OR FICTION: David Johnson will set career high’s in rushing and receiving yards…

The Sportsguy: FACT — Yes and Yes! David Johnson’s numbers have improved each season in rushing and have been very similar in pass receiving.

Here are the numbers;

  • (Fr) in 13 games played rushed for 822 and rec yds 422
  • (soph) in 11 games rushed for 1021 and rec yds were 383
  • (Jr) in 11 games rushed for 1291 and rec yds were 393

Staying healthy is a big key. But David looks bigger and stronger than ever. Don’t forget this is a 12 game regular season and I think this will be a playoff year for UNI. Therefore DJ will get a few more opportunities to run and catch! So YES and YES!

Cole Bair: FACT — I’m with The Sportsguy on this one. Yes and yes.

David Johnson has more depth behind him at the running back position than in any other year of his Panther career. Tyvis Smith, Evan Williams and new transfer Barkley Hill are poised to keep the mileage on DJ’s legs down in 2014.

Those backup running backs ability to keep David’s legs fresh will go a long way toward DJ breaking his single-season rushing and receiving records. In spite of a high-ankle sprain last season DJ still rushed for a career-high 1,291 yards. It’s my belief that offensive coordinator Bill Salmon will game-plan to get all his running backs involved each week – with David Johnson being the obvious focal point.

courtesy qctimes.com

courtesy qctimes.com

Somewhat of a ‘less is more’ approach in terms of snap count with the first-team all MVFC running back could be what catapults David to a record-breaking season.

J.T. NuttFACT — I can’t disagree here.  He’s that good.  He’s the best running back UNI has ever had and the best UNI running back I’ve seen.

Shakir Bell’s 145 yards in ONE HALF against UNI (before a concussion took him out) might be the single most dominant performance I’ve ever seen. But DJ brings it day in, day out, all the time.

I asked him at media day a few years ago how the holy heck he ended up at UNI and not Iowa (who couldn’t keep their RB’s healthy at the time)

and he said he “didn’t block well enough” for Iowa.

THANK YOU FOR THAT Captain Kirk.

David Johnson is a BCS level talent, with a work ethic seldom seen.  He has put up amazing numbers without making the playoffs.  UNI WILL be in the playoffs this year, and David will get more opportunities to add to his stats.

Mark Farley has said many times “We’ve barely scratched the surface with (his talent).”

FACT OR FICTION: Jake Farley will play at least 8 of the Panthers 12 regular season games…

The Sportsguy: FACT! – Senior year, high expectations. You will not be able to keep him off the field and out of the lineup!

Going into the fall workouts Jake still wasn’t 100% healthy coming off that broken leg from mid season last year, but it looks like each practice he is getting better and better. This past week, with 2 weeks to go to the season opener, he practiced all week in non contact drills. He may have to play with some pain due to the rod in that leg. And he may not see action in all 12 games, but I think we see this senior leader play in at least 8 this year if not more!

Cole Bair: FICTION — Jake Farley has had to undergo multiple surgeries to the leg he broke last season against NDSU. Whether those extra surgeries were planned, or un-planned, I’m concerned.

Head coach Mark Farley mentioned on media day that Jake wasn’t yet at 100 percent, and while The Sportsguy has reported he’s been participating in non-contact drills at practices, I am still wondering how far UNI’s ‘quarterback of the defense’ is from returning to full-contact.

Obviously one player does not determine a defense’s fate. But for those that watched or attended UNI football games last season, there was an obvious drop off in the defense after Farley went down.

I would be as careful as I could with the senior linebacker. If I know I should be able to get 8 healthy games from Jake this season – the last thing I would do is try to rush him back for a non-conference game like Hawaii or Tennessee Tech.

J.T. NuttFICTION –  He’ll play in 8 games, but that includes the playoffs.  He broke his leg during my birthday last year and as a buddy asked me, “can they win without him?” And the answer was “No”.

Jake not only sounds EXACTLY like his old man, but he’s also another coach on the field.  A good defense ALWAYS has a great linebacker.  He’s the leader.  Ray Lewis is a example.  Not that Farley has his talent, but he’s that important to his team.  The injury is still not 100% and Mark isn’t being specific about it.  Jake will be back when he’s ready, and he’ll be the difference between wins and losses late in the year.

FACT OR FICTION: UNI’s defense will rank as a top-3 overall MVFC defense…

The Sportsguy: FACT! — This defense will be very good and in MVFC games should end up near the top….so top 3…YES! The front 4 is excellent led by pre-season All MVFC and All American DT Xavier Williams. The return of Mac O’Brien in the DL is huge. Look for Isaac Ales to have a good year in the DL also.

This Panther team is very deep in the secondary and this is the strength of the defense in my opinion. All starters return at the corners and safeties and there are some quality back ups that are pushing those starters for playing time.

The question mark is at linebacker with Jake Farley trying to get back to last years form, replacing leading tackler from last year Jordan Gacke and finding and building some depth at the LB spot.

Cole Bair: FACT — This season’s UNI defense should make plays, and force turnovers. That said, with the possibility of not having Jake Farley in the middle, I am not as confident to call this a guaranteed top three overall MVFC defense. Without their quarterback of the defense the Panthers linebacking corps could still be very good.

courtesy UNIPanthers.com

courtesy UNIPanthers.com

With Farley the Panthers linebacking corps is in a position to be the conference’s best. If the Panthers have the senior linebacker making all the calls and checks for an entire season – The Panthers defense could be the league’s best.

However, I am expecting Farley could be held out until conference play, which begins week five. Winning the conference is always the priority, so aligning Jake’s comeback with that first MVFC game at Indiana State seems like a solid plan. Should the senior linebacker return week 5, I think he’ll be just enough to vault the Panthers defense into the top 3.

J.T. NuttFACT –  The UNI defense has been young and taken its lumps. But it has only gotten better and better.

UNI’s defense always has one stand out star, i.e. LJ Fort and his 184 tackles in 2011. Right now that star is Xavier Williams.  Any man with that awesome of a name deserves attention – but he’s even better on the field.  He’s already turning heads as an NFL draft pick.

The secondary is as deep as we’ve seen in years. The linebackers will be good, and they should be great when Jake Farley returns.

One might worry that they may be on the field a ton with the high-octane offense but the depth should help them thrive, and survive.

  • Agree or disagree? Respond in the comments below!
  • Jason Mathiasen

    Love the site! Can’t wait to read more.