One in a series of early-summer looks at the opponents the Iowa football team will face this season:
2013 RECORD: 7-5, 3-5 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (seventh place)
COACH: Mark Farley (111-51 entering 14th season)
RETURNING STARTERS: Offense (10), Defense (8), Specialists (1)
TOP RETURNERS: QB Sawyer Kollmorgen, 6-2, 215, jr., 156-of-248 passing, 1,824 yards, 14 TD, 5 int.; RB David Johnson, 6-3, 225, sr., 1,286 yards, 393 receiving yards, 14 TD; WR Kevin Vereen Jr., 6-3, 205, jr., 750 receiving yards, 4 TD; DB Deiondre’ Hall, 6-2, 190, jr., 57 tackles, 2 interceptions; DT Xavier Williams, 6-4, 311, sr., 74 tackles, 5.5 sacks
THE SPRING THING: Experience isn’t an issue for the Panthers, who will benefit from the addition of Iowa transfer Barkley Hill at running back, along with the return of seasoned David Johnson, a senior from Clinton.
Johnson and defensive tackle Xavier Williams are returning first team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference selections. Johnson is one of three players in UNI history to rush for 1,000 yards and gain more than 1,000 receiving yards, joining Corey Lewis and Carl Boyd on that list.
Sawyer Kollmorgen returns for his third season at quarterback, although Nebraska transfer Brion Carnes provided ample production last season when Kollmorgen was injured and both will continue to get a look once fall camp opens. Kollmorgen ranks seventh on UNI’s career touchdown pass list, throwing 35 in the 21 games he has played.
Defensive growth was a focus for UNI during the spring and Farley generally liked the foundation his team laid during its spring workouts.
THE BIG THING: From a 24-23 loss to eventual FCS national champion North Dakota State to a string of three straight overtime losses, the Panthers struggled in close calls during a 2013 season which began with a 28-20 win at Iowa State.
Experience should benefit this UNI team, something Farley is counting on with a schedule that includes tests against Iowa and Hawaii in the opening month of the season.
Aug. 30 – at Iowa
Sept. 13 – at Hawaii
Sept. 20 – Northern Colorado
Sept. 27 – Tennessee Tech
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Oct. 4 – at Indiana State
Oct. 11 – at South Dakota
Oct. 18 – South Dakota State
Oct. 25 – at Western Illinois
Nov. 1 – Illinois State
Nov. 8 – North Dakota State
Nov. 15 – at Southern Illinois
Nov. 22 – Missouri State