The UNI Panthers have been picked to finish third in the preseason Missouri Valley Football Conference poll. The Panthers will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing season in 2012 in which they finished 5-6 and failed to qualify for the national playoffs. It was the worst season for the program in a decade.
Panther coach Mark Farley says they played some really good teams at the start of the season, but the thing that hurt them was they didn’t play well in the middle of the season. Two key standouts return on offense in quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgan and running back David Johnson.
“You get on a board and start drawing plays it’s nice to know that Kollmorgan and Johnson are the two in the backfield, but I think the key to those two having success is how we use the other 9,” Farley says. He says the defenses can key on those two and they have to work on developing the others to complement Kollmorgan and Johnson.
Two time defending national champion North Dakota State is the preseason favorite which South Dakota State is second. Farley says the Valley is as tough as it has ever been. “We’ve always said we’ve been balance, which we have to a point. But now we’re balanced with a lot of great teams, that’s the difference right now,” Farley says. He says they now have teams in the top 10 not just the top 25.
UNI opens the season August 31st at Iowa State.