The U-N-I football team held their press day in Cedar Falls today. Optimism is high for the Panthers who last year surprised everyone by finishing 11-3. Under first year head coach, Mark Farley, the Panthers won the Gateway Conference and advanced to the NCAA Division 1-AA semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Montana. UNI has been picked as the pre-season favorite to win the Gateway. Farley was asked how the ranking impacts their preparation. He says it doesn’t change what they’re going to do, it changes their attitude. He says they’ll be more workmanlike this year now that the coaching staff knows the team.While many coaches shy away from being picked as the conference favorite, Farley says it’s exactly where they want to be.He says it’s nice to come out of nowhere, but he says Northern Iowa should be on the top, that’s where they want to be. The Panthers return 16 starters — 10 on offense.He says the strength of the team is the offensive line, and Farley says he feels good about his two quarterbacks and two running backs. While the line is strong, Farley says they need to develop their receivers and passing game.He says he believes they’ll be able to run the ball, but have to be able to throw the football to have success on offense. The Panthers open the year August 29th against Wayne State of Michigan.