By Jim Nelson
Courtesy of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
College Sports Journal
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — A review of the game film will certainly reveal a few flaws from ninth-ranked Northern Iowa’s 34-20 victory at Cal Poly Saturday night.
But as far as execution of a game plan, it was almost exactly how head coach Mark Farley and his staff drew it up.
Three major things needed to happen for the Panthers to beat the Mustangs. UNI needed to score early and build a lead, it needed to sustain drives and give its defense a chance to rest, and the Panther defense had to play disciplined, hard-hitting football and keep everything in front of them.
The post-game checklist showed UNI did all three of those things. The Panthers scored on their first three drives to take a 21-0 lead and led 28-7 at halftime. Going 8-for-10 on third-down conversions, UNI held the ball for nearly 15 minutes (14:13) of the first half against a team that averaged an eight-minute advantage in time of possession against its first two opponents.
“We hit them in all phases. We hit them in the run game and really hit the soft edges, hit them with a couple of passes, so it was a balanced attack,” Farley said. “We moved it right down the field and to do it multiple times took the wind out of them early and gave us breathing room as a defense.