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Coach Farley Says UNI Still Can Improve
Cedar Falls, Ia. — Northern Iowa football coach Mark Farley left Stambaugh Stadium - Youngstown State’s venue dubbed “the Ice Castle” - feeling slightly frosted.
The Panthers held on for a 21-20 win Saturday to remain tied atop the Missouri Valley Conference, but performed at a mediocre, not superior level.
“We were very poor on special teams, ” said Farley, whose No. 5 team faces fellow league frontrunner, Western Illinois, at noon Saturday in Macomb, Ill.
“I thought we played OK on offense and defense. But all in all it was a good win and to beat Youngstown at Youngstown, we’ll take that any time.”
What Farley and his staff won’t take any longer is sporadic special teams play.
Northern Iowa shined in that department two games ago in a 23-13 win over North Dakota State - mostly because of Jarred Herring’s kickoff returns, but sputtered Saturday, particularly on kick coverage.
Youngstown State averaged 40 yards per kickoff return.
The Panthers (6-2, 4-1) rank 105th of 118 Football Championship Subdivision teams in kick return yardage allowed, an average of 23.3 yards per attempt.
“It’s all personnel,” Farley said of the special teams shortcomings. “We need to get the right guys on the field, get them in the right spot, get a good kick. It all comes down to the kicker. If we tell you to kick it somewhere, kick it there and give us some hang time.
“There’s a lot of things going on within the dynamic of that deal. It is not just one person, but we’ve had some breakdowns.”
To fix those breakdowns, a shake-up might be required, Farley said.
“You’ve got to do the extra effort to be on (special teams),” Farley said. “If we have to put starters on that, we’ll put starters on that.”
Saturday’s special teams report card wasn’t all red, however.
The one-point victory margin remained because safety Darrell Lloyd blocked the Penguins’ final point-after-touchdown kick, with an assist from lineman Everette Pedescleaux, who was tabbed as the conference’s defensive player of the week.
“As I’ve said before,” Farley said, “Special teams hurt us, but special teams won the game for us, too.”
Coach Farley says UNI still can improve
By Rob Gray, The Des Moines Register