No Rima Reason – UNI Football Hosts ‘duh’ Bears of UNC

Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen  (17) handing the ball off in the NCAA Football game between the University of Hawaii Warriors and the Northern Iowa Panthers, Saturday, Sep 13, 2014 at the Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI. Photo by Matt Hirata/HMSWIRE

After facing two division one Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams in their first two games UNI football not only gets to play a team from their division one FCS level, but also get to play at home in the friendly confines of the UNI Dome. Add to that it is the Panthers homecoming game.

I look for some positive things to happen this Saturday for this UNI team that is desperate for its first win of the year.

The highly touted UNI running game has been all but non-existent in the first two games. David Johnson, one of the best running backs in all of division one football, FCS or FBS, is only averaging 2.6 yards per carry with a long run of just 8 yards. You read that right, 8 yards. DJ averaged nearly six yards per carry last year.UNIFB Crowd

The Panthers as a team are averaging just 1.3 yards per running play. Look for UNI to get the rushing attack on track Saturday at home in the dome. Knowing this coaching staff the way I do I can tell you in complete confidence that there was a focus in practice, in the film room and in the coaches meetings to get the ground attack firing on all cylinders.

UNC is giving up an average of 178 yards rushing to their opposition and neither of their two foes had a running back like David Johnson. David rushed for 121 yards last year against the Bears. Watch for the rushing attack to hum this week.

One positive coming off the first two games vs FBS opponents is on the injury front. Now UNI didn’t get out of those two games totally injury free but season ending injuries were far and few between. You never want to lose anyone to an injury but in this collision sport of football there are going to be some and you have to accept that.

via collegefootball.ap.org - UNI tight end Billy Williams (39) runs for yards after a catch in the first quarter against Hawaii, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Honolulu.  (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

via collegefootball.ap.org – UNI tight end Billy Williams (39) runs for yards after a catch in the first quarter against Hawaii, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

UNI lost safety Joe Feldpausch for the season week one at Iowa. This past Saturday Zach Skibinski was lost for 6 to 8 weeks. Skibinski is a redshirt freshman defensive lineman from Sioux City, Bishop Heelan High School. There was one other injury coming off that game Saturday at Hawaii and even though it is not season ending it will be a loss on the defensive side for this Saturdays game vs UNC. Junior defensive end Isaac Ales suffered a concussion in the loss at Hawaii and will not play this week. He is expected to play the following week versus Tennessee Tech.

Northern Colorado is a team UNI beat out in Greeley last year 26-7. The Bears are 1-1 so far this year and play in the tough Big Sky conference with the likes of Montana, Montana State and Eastern Washington.

UNC lost a heartbreaker to FBS foe UNLV in week one 13-12 then snapped a six game losing streak dating back to last year when they won their home opener over a new FCS team in a 28-20 win over Houston Baptist.

Northern Colorado plays an aggressive style of defense and that has helped them to pick off eight passes in just two games. They had four interceptions against UNLV. And four last Saturday in their win over Houston Baptist. UNC’s eight picks ranks them number one in the Big Sky Conference in that department.

Offensively the Bears have a couple of big running backs and they both see quality playing time.

Robert Holland is the senior who stands 6′ 1″ and weighs in at 210.His running mate is 228 pound sophomore Darius Graham. They don’t call them thunder and lightning at UNC. They refer to them as thunder and thunder.

Holland averages 4.7 yards per carry with two touchdowns while Graham is averaging 3.7 yards with one touchdown.

UNC is a team that wants to run first and pass second.

via muscatinejournal.com

via muscatinejournal.com

They run the football 70% of the time, at least that’s the percentage in their first two games. 90 running plays to 38 passing plays. You do the math.

Their quarterback has been accurate when they do throw the football. Sophomore Sean Rubalcaba (pronounced Rue-buh-cah-buh, now theres a drinking game in that name isn’t there?) is completing 71% of his passes this year.

UNI holds a big advantage in the kicking game. Panther field goal kicker Michael “auto-schmadic” Schmadeke is 4 for 4 in field goal tries, including a long of 41 yards. Seth Czapenski is a freshman place kicker for the Bears and is 1-5 with a long of 32 yards.

Logan Bieghler punted 13 times last week at Hawaii and now has punted 18 times already this year for the Panthers. Bieghler is averaging 40.6 yards per punt and has pinned 6 inside the 20. UNC punter Bailey Landwehr is also a freshman. He is only averaging 32.9 yards per punt in 9 tries.

Kick off is this Saturday in the UNI Dome starting at 4:00pm. Don’t forget pre-game tailgating hours have been extended to 6 hours prior to kickoff – instead of 4 as in previous years. And it’s homecoming!

This is a game the UNI Panthers must win. For a lot of reasons. I like the Panthers chances. UNI is 190-49-1 in the UNI -Dome. That win percentage goes up when you look at home wins in the dome versus regular season non-conference opponents. UNI head coach Mark Farley is 12-1 in home openers during his first 13 years as the leader of this program.

Northern Colorado is coming off a 1-11 season that saw them go 0-8 in the Big Sky. I like the Panthers chances to start a winning streak on Saturday.

It is the final home opener for a great group of seniors who have high aspirations to make this a special season. A homecoming win would make it that much more special.