Northern Iowa coach Mark Farley says his focus in fall camp this year is a flip-flop from last season when they didn’t have to work as much to prepare the defense for the opener.
“Last year we spend a lot of time on offense because the defense was sound. The defense has a lot of good players on it and all you had to do was get them lined up right and let them run,” according to Farley. “This year, the defense is so raw and so new that I walk in the room and more than half of it, it will be the first time they take the field. There was a time in spring ball that there was only one guy who played a game for us in the starting 11.”
Farley says they’ll do a lot in practice to put pressure on the defense to get them ready.”We need to prepare them through how we coach them because we can’t test our team on the field. We’ve got to find out about them through the stress we put on them on the field. We will stress the defense,” he says.
One key will be the linebackers, where the Panthers have some experience returning along with several new players who Farley says have to learn defense after being featured as quarterbacks or runningbacks in high school.
“When we’ve really got good linebackers, they were either quarterbacks or running backs in high school. And then we’ve got to coach the toughness into them, coach that play into them. Because, they have that athleticism, they’ve just got to get used to playing close to that line of scrimmage,” Farley says.
The Panthers open the season on the road September 3rd against Iowa State.
By Elwin Huffman