#10 Northern Iowa FCS Football 2013 Preview

Northern Iowa Panthers

Overall Rank: #10
#3 Missouri Valley

Northern Iowa Team Page#10 Northern Iowa FCS Football 2013 PreviewBuy Northern Iowa Football Tickets

Struggling through a rash of injuries and a tough schedule, it took a three game winning streak at the end of the year for Northern Iowa to get their win total to five. A 1-5 start, with the lone win coming against Central State, is not what anybody has come to expect from the Panthers. But the schedule included road trips to Wisconsin, Iowa, Youngstown State and Southern Illinois with a home loss to eventual national champs North Dakota State. Between that schedule and the injuries, UNI’s season was practically over by October. This year the schedule is a bit friendlier and it seems unlikely that the injuries could be anywhere near as bad as they were in 2012.

2012 Record: 5-6, 4-4
2012 Postseason: None
Coach: Mark Farley (104-45 at Northern Iowa, 104-45 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bill Salmon, Mario Verduzco
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Farley

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: David Johnson, RB, 1,021 yards
Passing: Sawyer Kollmorgen, QB, 2,460 yards
Receiving: Brett LeMaster, WR, 601 yards
Tackles: Jake Farley, LB, 85
Sacks: Mac O’Brien, DL, 2.0
Interceptions: Zach Cutkomp, LB, 1; Mac O’Brien, DL, 1

Other Key Returnees: DL Chris Jepsen, LB Jordan Gacke, DB Deiondre’ Hall, OL Dan Kruger, OL Jack Rummells, WR Chad Owens, TE Sam Rohr, DL Xavier Williams

Key Losses: RB Carlos Anderson, OL Misha Danilov, OL Brian Palangi, OL Tim Sauer, S Garrett Scott, WR Terrell Sinkfield, DB J.J. Swain, DB Varmah Sonie, DB Wilmot Wellington

Even with the injuries and inexperience in the backfield, the Northern Iowa offense was very productive in 2012. Sawyer Kollmorgen threw for 2,460 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman and the 6-2 quarterback is only getting better. His completion percentage was just a touch over 59 percent and that is something that should improve with experience. However, he did throw just eight interceptions and there is nothing wrong with a young quarterback being cautious. That is especially true when there is so much talent around him. Brett LeMaster and Chad Owens will again be the top receivers. Keep an eye on Phil Wright, a 5-10 senior and redshirt freshman Logan Cunningham, who are both coming off of strong springs. Kevin Vereen is a talented receiver too. He is one of those many players who missed time with injuries last season. Tight end Sam Rohr proved to be a big playmaker when Kollmorgen looks in his direction. Running back David Johnson rushed for 1,021 yards and 13 scores as a sophomore. At 6-3 and 214 pounds, he is a big back, but he does a very good job of staying low and breaking through tackles.

The UNI defense failed to make many big plays last season. They averaged just one sack per game and totaled a mere 16 turnovers on the year. The quarterback pressure problem could be solved by the return of Chris Jepsen and Mac O’Brien. This is the last go around for the senior linemen and it is time to be more productive. Xavier Williams is no stranger to making plays. He did block an impressive five kicks and can manhandle many interior offensive linemen. The secondary does not return a single player who picked off a pass last season. The only two players who tallied interceptions that are returning are O’Brien and linebacker Zach Cutkomp. So even the few big plays the secondary made were by graduated seniors. Deiondre’ Hall started six games in 2012, but that is the extent of starting experience for the defensive backs. The hope is transfers Makinton Dorleant, Joe Feldpausch and Tate Omli can make things happen.

The Bottom Line:
The good news on defense is that linebackers Jake Farley and Jordan Gacke are returning after combining to total 164 tackles. Sam Tim played hurt last season and Cutkomp saw action in just three games before succumbing to a season ending injury. At just about every position on the field Northern Iowa has players back from injury and that is huge for the depth of this squad. Even when the injury bug does hit, this group looks to be better prepared to fill the gaps. With a schedule that does not include two Big Ten teams, the Panthers will not get off to such a rough start either.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 148.36 (63rd in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 234.91 (36, 2)
Total Offense: 383.27 (52, 3)
Scoring Offense: 30.27 (32, 2)
Rushing Defense: 141.36 (41, 7)
Pass Defense: 196.27 (39, 7)
Total Defense: 337.64 (31, 7)
Scoring Defense: 21.36 (27, 5)
Turnover Margin: -.09 (66, 7)
Sacks: 1.00 (112, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 1.45 (26, 4)


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