Mark Farley 2016

Farley

CEDAR FALLS — It happens every August — fatigue.

That is the biggest issue the University of Northern Iowa football team is battling during its third week of preseason practice.

Head coach Mark Farley said last week the intensity of practice would ramp up after a lot of teaching the first five or six days.

“I think we have gotten good evaluation of our personnel the last few days,” Farley said Tuesday. “We have some conditioning issues and that is what we are working on right now. We also have fatigue and frustrations that are tied to the heat and long practices.

“If we can get through that, then we can start moving forward again.”

Farley said his players have to be able to deal with the heat because UNI will play in it, starting with the season opener Sept. 2 at Iowa State.

“We go inside and you can go a little longer,” Farley said. “There is no heat. But we have to be able to play outside in the heat at the same level you play inside the Dome. There is a difference, but they have to understand they have to adjust.”

BACK AND FORTH: The battle between Sam Drysdale and Austin Errthum for the No. 1 kicker position continues to be tight.

Through the first few practices, Farley said Errthum had the edge. Now Drysdale has elevated to No. 1.

“It’s kind of been a week-to-week thing, and really it could change tomorrow, again,” Farley said.

Errthum saw action in nine games last year, but Drysdale took over the job late in 2016, and his 4-for-4 game against Indiana State earned him Missouri Valley Football Conference Special Teams player of the week honors.

QB DEPTH: Eli Dunne is the Panthers’ starting quarterback, and Farley said junior Colton Howell has emerged as the clear No. 2.

The big battle is at No. 3 where senior Reggie Schulte and freshmen Christian Ellsworth and Jacob Keller are in the mix.

“One is further ahead mentally, but the other one, when he plays has shown he has great talent, too,” Farley said. “Colton is our second quarterback. The battle for No. 3, that is the one to watch.

“Keller is probably a little bit behind, but the more effectively he works the playbook and the more experience he gets, he will grow. He has shown the right temperament and body language.”

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Sports Writer

Sports reporter for The Courier

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