The UNI football team will need to depend on several newcomers as the Panthers bid for a second straight trip to the national playoffs. The defense is experienced but the Panthers must replace starting quarterback Eric Sanders and four offensive lineman from last year’s team that posted the school’s first unbeaten regular season and spent several weeks as the nation’s top ranked team.
UNI coach Mark Farley says the team will evolve as the season moves on, compared to last year’s experiences team that started at a high level. Farley says for many players who have waited their turn now is their chance to shine. He says they’ve taken the freshmen and grown them into redshirt sophomores and the last piece of the puzzle is the junior college players they’ve added in.
The Gateway Conference is now the Missouri Valley Conference and despite dominating the league a year ago the Panthers are picked to finish second behind South Dakota State. Farley says the players see they’ve been picked second to a team that’s never been in the league before. On the other hand, he says South Dakota State has 17 returning seniors.
The Panthers will host South Dakota State in their conference opener on September 20th. UNI opens trhe season August 30th at B-Y-U.