Nutt: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Panthers survive Salukis in 49-28 shootout

Malloy-vs-SIU(RolandFerrie)

| photo credit: Roland Ferrie (UNI University Relations) |

The best offense in the Missouri Valley came to the UNI-Dome to face the best Missouri Valley defense.

There was plenty of offense but the UNI defense won the game in the end.  A game that saw the teams combine for 143 plays, 962 yards, and 77 points (that only took three and a half hours to complete). UNI’s offense fired on all cylinders the entire game.

The Panthers have now won five in a row — with the running game becoming deeper than it has been in recent memory, and the offensive line dominating the past three weeks.

This game was interesting. SIU’s running back Daquan Isom scored two easy touchdowns of 61 and 72 yards.  The UNI defense was gashed on both plays.

UNI responded between the two Isom touchdowns with a Daurice Fountain 21-yard touchdown.  The fourth quarter started and UNI’s offense orchestrated a 14 play, 89-yard drive that took 6:32 and ended with an Aaron Bailey touchdown.  Despite giving up the big plays in the third quarter to Isom, the Panther defense didn’t blink and shut the Saluki’s out for the rest of the game.

THE GOOD

Aaron Bailey.

He now is the sole record holder for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in both UNI and MVFC history with 17, tying and surpassing Tirrell Rennie.  Unlike Brion Carnes, Bailey is getting noticeably better each week.  Quarterback improvement as the season goes on has been an issue at UNI, and it was unfortunate Sawyer Kollmorgen’s career is likely over, but the fact the offense can focus one one system for one quarterback seems to have been a blessing in disguise.  Bailey finished with 137 yards on 21 rushes with three touchdowns. More importantly he was 14-20 with 181 yards passing and two touchdowns.  He didn’t turn the ball over and was sacked only once.  Five touchdowns seems to be his average workload any more.  Farley said that Bailey hadn’t played much the past three years and this is his first season getting playing time.  One wonders what Aaron Bailey could look like if he had gotten all the snaps this season.

Tyvis Smith.

Do you remember the beginning of the season when UNI’s running game was inconsistent?  Yeah, those days are done.  Tyvis Smith ran 23 times for 166 yards and a touchdown.  He has emerged as the number one running back, although he’s the no.2 running option behind Aaron Bailey.

The running back by committee is done.  Good riddance.

The Saluki offense.

Hats off to a team that had absolutely no defensive support at all.  If SIU had half the defense UNI did, they’d be a playoff team.  Mark Iannotti and Daquan Isom are worth the price of admission.  Isom rushed 12 times for 145 yards and two touchdowns, and grabbed eight receptions for 68 yards and another score.  213 yards and three touchdowns is a welcome stat line for any running back.  Mark Iannotti is as good as advertised as well.  25-40 for 264 yards and two touchdowns.  He also ran 15 times for 60 yards.  It’s a shame his college career ends this way but he will get paid a very decent living to play at a higher level.  The Saluki’s rushed for 204 yards, passed for 264, and ended up with 468 yards on 71 plays.

THE BAD

Michael Schmadeke missed a field goal.

On a day as good as Panther fans had in Cedar Falls Saturday, it’s hard to find anything truly bad.

No offense to the football team. But it was really hard to get engaged in this game at first.  The swings and emotions of the basketball win over North Carolina were hard to shake off.  There was no time between games for anyone to decompress.  Another hour between games would have been wonderful for everyone to get their minds on football.  It’s a real shame because this football team deserved everyone’s undivided attention. They played the most difficult schedule in the history of the program and survived.  Their defense is the best we’ve ever seen and the offense is starting to look good.  Nobody wants to face UNI in the playoffs.

THE UGLY

The two long touchdowns by Daquan Isom.

UNI’s defense looked completely out of position on both touchdowns.  On the positive side the defenders nearly ran Isom down —  the Panther secondary has some of the FCS’ elite speed.  Mark Farley remarked after the game that the secondary was the main reason UNI kept Mark Iannotti in check.  He was uncharacteristically accepting of having (only) two bad plays against an offense as potent as Southern Illinois. And he’s right that it is nothing to gripe about.

The game took three and half hours.

The refs got review happy — again. It was a clear catch by Adam Fuehne in the waning moments of the game.  SIU was down three scores and it was a third down catch.  There was no doubt he caught the football.  Afterwards the Saluki’s run a play around the left side of the formation for what could be a first down.  The refs blew the play dead, reviewed the play for several minutes, then said the play stood as called…