The UNI Panthers visit Southern Illinois this weekend in a key Missouri Valley Conference matchup. The Panthers are 2-1 overall and opened the league race with a 34-20 win over South Dakota State. They will be looking for their first win in Carbondale since back in 1996.
Coach Mark Farley says in this league you’re going to have to be able to win on the road and deal with the adversity. The Panthers have been relying on their ground game more this season. They have rushed the ball 117 times and passed it 59 times. Farley says they are a little bit more dynamic and allusive with their option series, which in turn opens up the passing game.
Farley says this team will need to win in different ways. He says the difference in this team from others is they will have game management from the offensive, defensive and special teams to win, and will play each differently based on how the game unfolds.
The Panther defense is giving up 383 yards of passing per game but Farley says that stat is misleading. He says they haven’t allowed teams to run the ball against them, including BYU. Farley says they held South Dakota to a negative yard rushing in the first half and they had to throw the ball 52 times in the second half. He says making an offense one dimensional can lead to more turnovers.
The home team has won the last 11 meetings in this series and the Salukis hope to extend that streak. Southern Illinois coach Dale Lennon says you can’t address it as anything other than a big game. The Salukis are 1-1 and have not played since a September 13th loss at Northwestern.
Lennon says they worked on the fundamentals last week to shore up some things and now they will see how far they have home. Lennon says the Panthers do a good job of winning the battle for field position. He says the offense has had good starting position and has been able to move the ball when pinned back.