CEDAR FALLS — Momentum is a fickle beast that can be won and lost in a moment.
Northern Iowa certainly feels better about its season following a 42-27 victory over South Dakota this past Saturday, and admit the win feels like a momentum builder.
At the same time, the Panthers (4-3 overall, 2-1 Missouri Valley Football Conference) believe each week is a different challenge and that is true with Saturday’s trip to Missouri State (1-5, 1-2).
“Standing here now, yes,” answered Panther head coach Mark Farley if UNI built confidence in its win. “But I think you have to start over every week. I think every week whether you are coming off Iowa State, North Dakota State, Weber (State) or Idaho State and now this past weekend I think you have to start new every week.”
Farley added it is important that the Panthers, who moved up three spots to No. 11 in the most recent FCS Stats poll, builds on the victory over the Coyotes, which means getting better and getting sharper, especially because it is a road trip. UNI is 0-3 on the road and 4-0 at home.
“It still comes down to better execution on Saturday and we do have to do a better job on the road,” Farley said.”It feels very good coming off Saturday’s game by how things transpired and how we had big plays, explosive plays, and created turnovers. But you go back and watch the film, and there are errors that need to be corrected and all kinds of room to get better.
“This time of the year you better get better. Teams need to keep growing.”
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As far as being winless on the road, Farley says part of that is UNI has not played well and another is the competition it has faced. The Panthers’ three road loses are to Iowa State, now ranked 23rd in the AP Top 25, and to No. 4 Weber State and No. 1 NDSU.
“It really is not a concern,” Farley said of the Panthers road woes. “I’m just concerned about having a good practice this afternoon. We are aware we have played some really good teams on the road. That is part of it, too. So, it is not just the road.
“But it is are we prepared to play to our level whether we are starting the game in the Dome or starting the game at Missouri State this weekend. That is how I view it. It is not the road, but how we approached the game.”
UNI has won six straight at Plaster Field in Springfield, Mo., and has not lost to the Bears since 2005.
Farley has already addressed his team about not overlooking MSU with a date against No. 8 Illinois State on the horizon, again saying what UNI does systematically will not change drastically leading up to the game with the Bears, but the Panthers should strive to be smarter systematically.
“I go back to kind of a standard answer,” Farley said. “You practice the same way that you have practiced all season. Don’t make one game bigger than another. At the same time, learn from the games you have played and make sure you apply what you have learned, not just experience it. Use the experience to your advantage and that is as coaches and players. I’m telling the coaches the same thing I’m telling the guys.
INJURIES: Farley said other than the players announced as being out for the season, that Panthers should have everybody that played in the win over USD available to play against Missouri State.