The U.N.I. football team’s next playoff game will be before a national television audience on Friday, and that’s more than OK with Panther coach Mark Farley. U.N.I. is the 5th seed in the FCS playoffs and travel to a quarterfinal matchup against 4th seed Montana on Friday. That game will be seen on ESPN, and Farley says that kind of exposure doesn’t come around very often.
“Every sports bar in the country will have the football game, because it’s the only game that will be on,”Farley said. He says it’s a chance to show of the team and university.
The game was originally set to be played on Saturday, but was moved up to Friday night to accommodate the television audience. Farley says that he doesn’t expect the change in the schedule to have much of an impact on his team’s preparation. “I don’t think it’s gonna matter, our prep will be different now, it’s got to be pushed up a day,” Farley says.
Farley says the Panthers will fly out late on Wednesday night, rather than early Thursday morning, in an effort to keep his players as close to their normal schedules as possible. Farley says they want to get there and let the players sleep in the next day and they will be on Mountain time and that should take out some of the stress of travel.
Montana coach Robin Pflugrad says the Grizzlies will be challenged by an outstanding U.N.I. team and a program that has been in the playoffs so many times. Pflugrad says the Panthers play a physical style of defense that reminds him of what he envisions Farley would be like as a player.
Plufgrad says the Montana defense will need to do a good job of tackling U.N.I. quarterback Terrell Rennie. “You know, it’s the scary part of their offense, the amount of tackles he breaks in the open field,” Plufgrad said.
Friday’s game will kick off at 7:00 Iowa time. It will be the 5th meeting between U.N.I. and Montana. The Grizzlies have won each of the previous four games, including two playoff victories.
By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls