#23 Northern Iowa FCS Football 2019 Preview

Northern Iowa Panthers
Overall Rank: #23
#5 Missouri Valley
 Northern Iowa Logo
Northern Iowa has been a consistent playoff team and the Panthers are never afraid to test themselves in non-conference play. Last season they played Montana and Iowa on the road and this year they play Iowa State, Southern Utah, Idaho State and Weber State.
2018 Record: 7-6, 5-3
2018 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Mark Farley (149-78 at Northern Iowa, 149-78 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ryan Mahaffey
Defensive Coordinator: Jeremiah Johnson
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Trevor Allen, RB, 611 yards
Passing: Jacob Keller, QB, 18 yards
Receiving: Briley Moore, TE, 536 yards
Tackles: Korby Sander, DB, 93
Sacks: Elerson Smith, DL, 7.5
Interceptions: Xavior Williams, DB, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Tyler Hoosman, WR Deion McShane, WR Jaylin James, OL Jackson Scott-Brown, LB Chris Kolarevic, DB Christian Jegen, DL Seth Thomas
Key Losses: RB Marcus Weymiller, QB Eli Dunne, LB Duncan Ferch, LB Rickey Neal, DB AJ Allen, DL Bryce Douglas, K Austin Errthum
The Panthers must replace quarterback Eli Dunne, who was the starter for over two seasons. Jacob Keller is the quarterback with experience, but the sophomore threw just one pass last season. Will McElvain, Nate Martens and Justin Fomby are freshmen. The experience is lacking, but there is certainly no lack of talent. And with the top six pass catchers back, whoever ends up under center will have a lot of talent to work with. Briley Moore is one of the best tight ends in the FCS and Deion McShane and Jaylin James are quality wide receivers. Senior Trevor Allen will take over the running back duties after rushing for 611 yards and five scores as Marcus Weymiller’s backup.
By the end of last season, UNI was playing very good defense. There is some rebuilding do in the front seven, but the talent is there to quickly reload. Elerson Smith and Seth Thomas are a decent duo to build around on the line and Chris Kolarevic was off to a great start at linebacker before an injury cut his freshman season short. In just six games he tallied 65 tackles. The secondary has a ton of experience. Xavior Williams, Korby Sander and Christian Jegen were the most productive in 2018. With that much experience in the secondary, Northern Iowa should again consistently win the turnover battle.
The Bottom Line:
As always the Panthers are going to compete for a playoff spot. And, as always, they are not going to make it easy on themselves with their schedule. Along with their tough non-conference slate, the Panthers also have trips to North Dakota State, Illinois State and South Dakota State. Those could be the toughest three teams in the MVFC. Getting enough wins to reach the playoffs will not be easy, but Northern Iowa has the talent to beat anybody on any given day.
Projected Postseason: None
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 133.6 (87th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 213.5 (63, 6)
Total Offense: 347.1 (87, 9)
Scoring Offense: 25.6 (78, 7)
Rushing Defense: 133.4 (28, 3)
Pass Defense: 231.9 (85, 7)
Total Defense: 365.3 (44, 5)
Scoring Defense: 21.3 (17, 3)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (7, 3)
Sacks: 2.08 (61, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.46 (31, 3)
HERO Sports 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#20 Cameron Baker
#49 Nate Martens
#69 Justin Fomby
#77 Logan Wolf
#134 Omar Brown
#172 Kobe Rios