Fact or Fiction: UNI Football – UNI vs Indiana St. – Game 5

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. This week’s ‘fact or fiction’ previews game 5 of the UNI football season as the Panthers will take on the Indiana State Sycamores at Memorial Stadium in Terre Haute. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Tune into 1540 KXEL on the Panther Sports Network at 1 p.m. for the UNI Panther Football Pregame Show with Gary Rima and Scott Peterson.


FACT OR FICTION: Against an Indiana State defense that leads the MVFC with a +9 turnover ratio Panthers quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen will not have more than two turnovers against the Sycamores…

The Sportsguy: FACT

Indiana State has compiled some pretty impressive stats so far this year in their 3-1 start. Quarterback Mike Perish throwing for 295 yards per game is one of them. Perish, the transfer from Western Michigan, throwing 160 passes so far this year without an interception is another.

courtesy UNI Athletics Media Relations

courtesy UNI Athletics Media Relations

And his 66.9% completion ratio is another. But, the stat that most impresses me is this +9 turnover ratio the Sycamores have 4 games into the season.

Turnovers win or lose games. With that said I think UNI quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen’s game management and decision making has been good this year. And very good of late. He has thrown 117 passes and only 2 have been picked off. So I do not think he has more than two turnovers in this game. The emphasis is on “he.” UNI does not want to – as a team – have more than two turnovers if they hope to win. But I am confident Sawyer doesn’t turn it over more than twice. Lets hope the rest of the team also cherishes the football!

Cole Bair: FICTION

Against a opportunistic Indiana State defense I’m unfortunately calling this one fiction. This, to me, is the game where Kollmorgen’s 52.1% completion percentage may very well show its consequences.

Hopefully the recent lineup adjustment along the offensive line will continue to prove a good decision and provide Sawyer with the quality of pass-protection he received against Northern Colorado and Tennessee Tech.

A productive running game will also go a long way towards protecting the rock on Saturday.

The play-action pass was a weapon against Tennessee Tech, but so was basically everything else for the Panther offense that day. But, if these three things (pass ‘pro,’ a good run game & hitting the play-action pass) all happen on Saturday then I’ll likely be wrong.

courtesy UNI Athletics Media Relations

courtesy UNI Athletics Media Relations

However, considering the quality of opponent is ten-fold better this Saturday than the past two I don’t think the UNI offense will hit on all cylinders for four quarters.

J.T. Nutt: FACT

Sawyer has not forced any throws this season.  Really has not needed to yet.  But as a veteran quarterback we want to see Sawyer making the wise decisions.  Also, the ‘Trees’ have had a pretty weak schedule.  Tennessee Tech is responsible for four of the Sycamores nine interceptions on the year. TTU is not a good football team by any stretch of the imagination and they scored a pair of touchdowns on Indiana State.  Liberty, also not a powerhouse, had 4 turnovers against the ‘Trees.’  Sawyer has already faced a tenacious Hawaii defense. As well as a solid Iowa defense. Sawyer will not be phased.  He’ll throw it down the field more. But not into danger.

FACT OR FICTION: After seeing time at fullback in last Saturday’s game against Tennessee Tech, transfer running back Barkley Hill will continue to receive consistent touches despite Darrian Miller’s presence as the #2 back…

The Sportsguy: FACT

IF getting 5 to 8 “touches” in the game is considered ‘consistent touches’ then I think this is a fact. IF getting consistent touches means he is the fullback on a number of plays and plays a bigger role offensively than he did in the first three games I agree.  Barkley’s role is expanding. And we saw that last week when he started at the fullback spot over incumbent Shawn Rush.

courtesy UNI Athletics Media Relations

courtesy UNI Athletics Media Relations

But again, I caution you. When a team has a guy like David Johnson they don’t want to get too cute and be handing the ball off too many times to someone other than the guy who wears number 7!

Cole Bair: FACT

I’m already on the record saying that Barkley Hill would begin to chip away at the touches David Johnson and Darrian Miller were dominating. So of course I am going with fact. No disrespect to Darrian, he’s a terrific running back with a special skill-set, but Barkley Hill brings an element to the UNI backfield that gives them yet another dynamic in their offense.

Seeing Barkley get the start at fullback gets a ‘tip of the cap’ from me to the Panther coaching staff.

courtesy UNI Athletics Media Relations

courtesy UNI Athletics Media Relations

Mark Farley said at his Monday press luncheon that Barkley’s grasp of the offense has grown considerably in the past few weeks and that has given him the opportunity to see the field more. I enjoy watching a spread-it-out and air-it-out offense as much as the next person, but the idea of the Panthers having a skilled running back with the capabilities to play fullback is drool worthy. Factor in how consistent backup quarterback Brion Carnes has been as a pistol/read-option runner and MVFC defenses will have more than enough to game plan for.

J.T. Nutt: FICTION

He will get more touches, yes.  But consistent? No.

UNI has always had a 2-back system. And this year is no different.  Farley will continue to give David Johnson plenty of rest to stay healthy all year.  Darrian Miller has handled the rock well and often with #7 on the sidelines, or even in the same backfield.  Darrian may need to be spelled from time to time giving Barkley a chance.  Still don’t see more than 5-10 carries.

FACT OR FICTION: After swapping Trevor Hanson for Kirk Harris at right guard last Saturday the UNI offensive line will continue to improve against Indy State with two or less sacks of the quarterback and over 150 team rushing yards against the Sycamores…

The Sportsguy: FACT

I am not sure if it is a coincidence that the running game took off two weeks ago because Trevor Hanson was inserted into the starting lineup at left guard for Kirk Harris or because UNI played two lower level division 1 FCS teams, after playing a Big 10 team, and then a Mountain West team, in their first two games.

Photo by UNI Athletics Communications

Photo by UNI Athletics Communications

But whatever the reason don’t try and fix what isn’t broke. And right now the running game isn’t broke! It is working!

I look for the Panther rushing attack to have another decent day and 150-plus yards on the ground will be a big part of the formula to a road win over the #25 ranked team in FCS football. If the running game clicks like I think it will it’ll also help the play-action pass be successful. Tempering the pass-rush of the Sycamores. The sack total for the “trees” should be 2 or less!

Cole Bair: FICTION

I say fiction in regards to the two sacks. Although the offensive-line looked great the last two weekends I’m once again going to point out how poor the competition was. Trevor Hanson seems to be running with his opportunity at guard but this Sycamore defensive-line is a completely different animal than Northern Colorado or Tennessee Tech’s.

Sacks don’t lose a team games, but turnovers will. And Sawyer may have to absorb three or four sacks in the process of taking care of the ball on Saturday.

The Sycamores are good, but David Johnson is better. DJ will get his and the team will most certainly run for 150-plus yards thanks to contributions from Darrian Miller, Barkley Hill and Brion Carnes.

J.T. Nutt: FACT

Granted the team that UNI played may be one of the worst teams they have played in decades the offensive-line is still much improved from the Hawaii and Iowa games.

Two sacks is a perfect over/under number.

Indiana State will get to Sawyer.  He’s been pretty good thus far about getting rid of the ball.

150 rushing yards is a given.  200+ should happen.  David Johnson will have 100+ yards.  Brion Carnes, Darrian Millers, Barkley Hill, and company will combine for the rest.

  • Give us your thoughts ‘OPR Nation!’ Fact? Or Fiction?