Iowa hosts UNI in the season opener for both. The Hawkeyes enter with lofty expectations but coach Kirk Ferentz says there are question marks in every season opener. “Until you really start playing games, that’s really when you find out about the personality of your team…how guys are going to react,” Ferentz says. He says they have a lot of guys who have never played before a large crowd.
Ferentz says the Panthers have played well against FBS foes because they are able to match up at the line of scrimmage. He says they also have an experienced quarterback and a talented runningback and good receivers.
Ferentz says the Hawkeyes need to find a way to slow down Panther running back David Johnson. “You stop great players by playing great team defense, and I think that’s really the key. He’s an outstanding player and it doesn’t matter how you slice or dice it, and that’s run pass or block,” Ferentz says. He says if they let Johnson get going, it’s not going to be fun.
UNI coach Mark Farley says the Panthers need to stand up physically and win the line of scrimmage. He says they can’t out-scheme Iowa, they have to outplay the person across from them for all 11 guys.
Farley says it is a great opportunity for his team. “First of all you have to embrace the hype, because there is hype to this…it’s a neat experience for them, it’s a neat opportunity, but there’s also a job to do in this process,” Farley says.
But he also wants his team to take advantage of the opportunity. “We’re all from Iowa and there’s no hidden secret. This is an opportunity to play in front people who you may not play in front of every week or may not play in front of again. Our players know that, our program knows that. So it’s who we are as a program as well as who we are individually,” Farley says.
Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls contributed to this story.