Northern Iowa football coach Mark Farley says the number one objective of spring practice is to instill toughness in his team. Big things will be expected from the Panthers in 2011 as they return 18 starters from a team that won the Missouri Valley Football Conference championship.

Farley says their trademark is toughness and they are going to be “tough and tenacious and hang our hat on it.” He says they can do a lot of things right in their scheme, but at the end of the day it comes down to an attitude and a mindset.

Farley says a team needs to be tough to handle expectations. He says some people call it pride, but he says the bottom line is there is pressure at U.N.I. as they expect to win. Farley says even with a large number of players returning the Panthers need to get better if they want to have success.

“You either gotta be chased, or you’re chasing somebody, and right now we have to keep on that mindset, that toughness,” Farley says. He says they do a lot of things right, they just have to find creative ways to progress and move ahead.

U.N.I.’s spring game is April 29th.

By Elwin Huffman KOEL Oelwein