Iowa State, and UNI enter the fall with multi-year starters at quarterback, while Iowa looks to a sophomore with one start under his belt. Eric Sanders has started at quarterback for UNI since being pressed into duty by an injury his freshman season. Sanders led the Panthers to a runner-up finish in the national playoffs in 2005, and says this team looks a lot like that one.
Sanders says it is very similar with a lot of experience coming back like they did that year, with experienced receivers and runningbacks and a good defense. "It sounds good now, but we still have got to go out and prove it on Saturdays and everything, "Sanders says, "hopefully we’ll stay healthy, and good things will come"
Sanders says the experience is key in making another run at the national title. Sanders says they’ve all been battled tested, so hopefully that will prepare them for the four road games in September. Sanders says there was some rebuilding last year coming off the playoff run. Sanders says last year the new guys were coming in and learning, but this year they know what to expect and don’t have to relearn everything. Sanders, from Oelwein, opens his senior season under center in the UNI-Dome as the Panthers host Minnesota State.
Brett Meyer has also been a starter since his freshman season, but the Atlantic prep comes into fall with a new coach and a new offensive system. Meyer says things are going good from spring into the fall. Meyer says getting used to a new system was tough, but he thinks they’re adjusting well.
Meyer says the new terminology is the biggest thing with new names for the protection schemes and routes, but he feels he has a good grasp of what’s going on. Starting over with a new head coach, position coach and offensive scheme give this fall a little bit of a feel of being a freshman all over again. Meyer says in some ways it does feel like being a freshman, but Meyer says he’s smarter overall about football, and that makes it a lot easier. The Cyclones open the season August 30th at home against Kent State.
Jake Christensen is a redshirt sophomore who started the Northern Illinois game last year when Drew Tate was injured. Christensen saw limited action in other games, but doesn’t consider himself a rookie. Christensen says this is the third year for his class, and they’ve learned a lot in those years. He says they may be rookies in game experience, but not otherwise.
Christensen says the experience he’s gained will help as he takes over as the leader of the offense.
He says you progress and learn from your mistakes, but he says you just have to gain the respect of the other teammembers. Christensen says the guys who don’t learn from their mistakes aren’t here anymore. Christensen says he isn’t setting any big expectations for number of games the team will win.
Christensen says, "You can’t put expectations on it, because you leave yourself too much room for failure. You just have to take it step by step and play by play." Christensen says that may sound like a cliché, but you have to "take everything with a grain of salt," learn from your mistakes and move on. Christensen isn’t worried about his ability to lead the team. Christensen says the coaches do a good job of instilling confidence in the team and gets them mentally ready to go. Iowa opens the season against Northern Illinois on September 1st at Soldier Field in Chicago.