#9 Northern Iowa FCS Football 2012 Preview

Northern Iowa Panthers

Overall Rank: #9
#2 Missouri Valley Football Conference
Northern Iowa FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Northern Iowa Team Page


Last year, Northern Iowa made a nice playoff run. They beat Wofford 28-21 in Cedar Falls but ended up falling to Montana in the next round 48-10. That blowout loss to Montana was an emotional low to a very successful 2011 Panther team which featured one of the best defenses in the FCS. Leading up to the loss to Montana, the most points allowed by Northern Iowa was 27 to North Dakota State. Beyond that negative end, the Panthers were an impressive team. A ten-win season is nothing to scoff at and year after year Northern Iowa seems to reload talent and repeat successful seasons. Quarterback Tirrell Rennie was an outstanding performer for Northern Iowa.  He led the team in passing, rushing, and was 3rd in team scoring behind running back David Johnson and kicker Tyler Sievertson. Although the Panthers lose Rennie to graduation, Northern Iowa does return Jared Lanpher who performed well against Youngstown State last season in place of an injured Rennie. Other QB’s vying for a starting role this year are Sawyer Kollmorgen, Steven Kaiser, and Justin Black. In 2012, Northern Iowa has an extremely difficult schedule and will be tested beyond belief throughout the season.

2011 Record: (10-3, 7-1)
2011 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Mark Farley (99-40 at Northern Iowa, 99-40 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bill Salmon/Mario Verduzco
Defensive Coordinator: Matt Entz

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: David Johnson, RB, 869 yards
Passing: Jared Lanpher, QB, 365 yards
Receiving: David Johnson, RB, 422 yards
Tackles: Garrett Scott, DB, 105
Sacks: Chris Jepsen, DL, 4.0
Interceptions: Garrett Scott, DB, 4

Other Key Returnees: DB J.J. Swain, DB Varmah Sonie, RB Carlos Anderson, K Tyler Sievertson, WR Terrell Sinkfield, OL Misha Danilov, OL Tim Sauer, OL Brian Palangi, OL Dan Kruger

Key Losses: QB Tirrell Rennie, WR Jared Herring, LB L.J. Fort, LB Jordan Smith, SS James Conley, DL Ben Boothby, DE Darren Branch, DL August Hadenfeldt

Northern Iowa returns a very experienced offensive line. When that experience on the line is combined with talented backs David Johnson and Carlos Anderson, the result should be a very potent run game. The dangerous run game will also provide a much needed stability to an offense that will likely be under the reigns of an inexperienced quarterback. This importance cannot be understated. Teams that have an advantage of a solid running game have the ability to develop an extremely good and efficient quarterback through the use of timely play action passes. This season look for Northern Iowa to be a run first team with the ability to strike downfield at any given moment. Without the unique ability of Tirrell Rennie, Northern Iowa will likely be more balanced with RB David Johnson producing over 1,000 yards rushing in place of Rennie.

The defense from last year was a significant strength for the Panthers. They had a lot of maturity with senior leadership. However, this year there are a lot of holes that need to be filled from last year, especially at the linebacker and defensive line positions. Star linebacker L.J. Fort and sidekick Jordan Smith provided the defense with true leadership, which resulted in a tough defense and large bursts of momentum for the Panthers. The defensive line also lost experience. Ben Boothby and Darren Branch combined for 14 sacks last season. The big question on defense will be who will provide that sort of presence on the line in 2012?

The Bottom Line:
Northern Iowa will be a good team in 2012. If the Panthers can stay healthy during their tough non-conference schedule against two Big Ten foes (Wisconsin and Iowa), then they should be able to put themselves in a good position to contend for the Missouri Valley Football title. However, they also play Central State (D-II), which means they will have to win seven of their last eight games to become playoff eligible. That kind of scheduling puts a lot of pressure on a team to perform. If Northern Iowa can fill their holes on defense and develop good balance on offense, then I have no doubt that Northern Iowa is capable of going 7-1 in conference play again this year. However, there is no room for a slip-up along the way.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 167.85 (40th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 166.69 (95, 3)
Total Offense: 334.54 (79, 7)
Scoring Offense: 26.08 (54, 5)
Rushing Defense: 157.69 (69, 2)
Pass Defense: 192.00 (39, 3)
Total Defense: 319.20 (t. 51, 2)
Scoring Defense: 14.20 (12, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.08 (11, 2)
Sacks: 2.00 (t. 73, t. 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.88 (60, t. 3)

Madness 2012 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#55 Kevin Carroll
#130 Justin Black
#158 Nate Shaw