Iowa and UNI meet for the 15th time in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes have high hopes after going 9-4 in 2008 but they will be without running back Jewel Hampton this season who suffered a knee injury. Junior Paki O’Meara and redshirt freshman Adam Robinson are listed on the depth chart while two other freshmen, Jeff Brinson and Brandon Wegher could also see playing time.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says now it’s up to what they do in the games as he says they haven’t played at this level a lot. He says they’ve had success with young players before and while they try not to put anyone out there before they are ready to play, they will still have some ups and downs.
Ferentz who says the Panthers cause them a number of concerns as he says they have veterans on offense, including fast dangerous recievers with a good quarterback. He says defensively their strengths are up front.
Iowa’s defense is experienced but Ferentz says that unit will be challenged by the Panther offense that is efficient and uses multiple sets. UNI’s secondary is freshman laden but Ferentz does not expect the Panthers to change their style of play. He says they won’t make wholesale changes because they have been successful with what they do and are well coached.
After making it to the semifinal round of the national playoffs in 2008 the Panthers enter this season ranked in the top five of the FCS polls. Coach Mark Farley knows the Hawkeyes will provide a tough opener. Farley says Iowa has one of the best offensive lines he’s seen on film and he says Hawkeye quarterback Ricki Stanzi is very accurate and calm and manages the game very well.
Farley says Iowa is a tough matchup because of their style of play as they are not fancy, but are hard-nosed and physical for four quarters. Farley says there is no way to prepare his team for the atmosphere they will experience. He says playing in Kinnick was an experience the first time he went there as an assistant coach. He says it is one of the most unique venues in sports, and calls it an “awesome deal” that you can’t prepare for.
The Panthers are no stranger to opening against a ranked team. A year ago, they opened with a 41-17 loss at BYU. He says it compares statistically to BYU offensively, but he says Iowa is probably better on defense.
Elwin Huffman of KOEL contributed to this story.