UNI’s 3 keys to victory


Northern Iowa’s Theo Day hands off to Dom Williams against Sacramento State at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

1. Make Western Illinois question its QB choice

Three quarterbacks have played meaningful snaps for the Leathernecks this season. Henry Ogala started the season as WIU’s starter, but junior Nick Davenport supplanted Ogala in the first quarter against Minnesota. Last week, junior Clay Bruno took over under center in the second half of the Leathernecks’ loss to Southern Utah. It will be UNI’s job to make first-year head coach Myers Henderickson question the decision he makes at quarterback by forcing turnovers and making the Leathernecks listless offense look ineffective for the third week in a row.

2. Prey on the Leathernecks’ turnover prone offense

Piggybacking on the last point, WIU possesses one of the worst turnover margins in the country with a minus-6 mark and four turnovers last week. All three quarterbacks have shown a tendency to put the ball in harm’s way with two interceptions apiece. Additionally, WIU has lost two of its three fumbles. The UNI defense has only forced three turnovers on the season — one interception and two fumbles. The Panthers have capitalized on those three turnovers and scored 14 points off of them with one missed field goal. Saturday will be an opportunity for UNI’s defense to have more success taking the ball away from its opponent.

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3. Play with the right attitude/heart

This key — more crucial than the previous two — will determine the outcome Saturday. Beginning immediately following their loss to Sacramento State last Saturday, UNI head coach Mark Farley preached the need for his team to play with the right attitude and heart. From missed tackles to inconsistency on offense, the Panthers have done more to keep themselves out of the win column than their opponents. It is time for UNI to buck that trend and answer Farley’s challenge for the Panthers to put together a clean, consistent performance. While the Leathernecks have looked bad in their three losses, the Panthers do not have the luxury of overlooking any opponent. Additionally, Henderickson praised the Leathernecks’ fight following their loss last week saying, “I love the belief and the will to keep working to find a way to try to find a way to win.”

Fball UNI vs.  Sacramento 8

Northern Iowa’s Stefan Black and Bryce Flater tackle Sacramento State’s Marshel Martin as he runs the ball at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday.

CHRIS ZOELLER Courier Staff Photographer

Both teams remain in search of their first win of the season after 0-3 starts. For the Panthers, a win would mean avoiding their first 0-4 start since the 1965 season, when UNI lost its first five games before winning the final four. It would also mean avoiding their first 0-2 start in Missouri Valley Football Conference play since the 2015 season, when UNI lost its first three and finished fourth in the league. A loss would put UNI’s back against the wall in terms of winning the conference. A team with two conference losses has won the MVFC only twice (UNI 2010, 2005).

The Panthers’ new offense under second-year starting quarterback Theo Day looks the most comfortable on the season and jumps out to a commanding lead in the first half. WIU manages a late score to cut the lead to a manageable deficit before the half. However, UNI does not take its foot off the gas in the second half and walks away with a confidence-boosting win. WIU scores a late, garbage-time touchdown.

UNI 38, Western Illinois 10


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