Drake coach Rob Ash knows his team faces a big challenge Thursday night against U-N-I but Ash says it is a great way to start the season. The Panthers are ranked fourth in the 1-AA pre-season poll and rolled past the Bulldogs 52-17 in last year’s season opener. Ash says there has been a huge buildup to this game.

Ash says this is huge challenge for his team but feels it is good for the program. He says no matter what happens they’re taking on one of the great teams in the country and it raises the level of awareness and expectations for the program.

Ash says the players like the challenge of going up against one of the country’s top programs. He says it’s important that the best team in the conference isn’t the best team on the schedule as it makes the conference games come back to reality.

Ash says the biggest concern against U-N-I is their speed advantage, especially defensively, where he says the Panthers limited their running game last year.
The Panthers are coming off a season in which they made it to the 1-AA national championship game and junior quarterback Eric Sanders says that experience should help this season.

Sanders says all the fourth quarter comebacks and holding on to leads on the road have made it so there isn’t any situation they haven’t seen. This will be one of eight games in the state of Iowa for the Panthers who will also play at Iowa State.