UNI Football Media Day: 5 Things That Stood Out
So far in camp, the offense has taken precedent for UNI football. With new co-offensive coordinators Ryan Clanton and Bodie Reeder taking over, it's been made clear that that side of the ball is the number one priority for the Panthers as they head into the 2022-2023 season.
While the offense is a major focus, we shouldn't let all the hullabaloo surrounding it distract us from what else we learned on UNI Football's media day, August 10.
Coach Bryce Paup Takes Assistant Head Coach Position
Coach Bryce Paup is known as one of -- if not the -- best defensive line coaches in the country. He's beloved by his players and constantly produces some of the best D-Linemen in the nation. See Jared Brinkman, Xavier Williams, and Karter Schult.
After spending a multitude of years on staff under Farley, the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year has been promoted to assistant head coach. This is what Farley had to say of Paup:
(Paup) understands what we're trying to get done off the field as much as on the field. He's established as a coach with the players and with what we're about. Plus, he's effective at what he does.
The Defensive Back Group is Loaded
Not only do the Panthers return preseason All-American safety Benny Sapp III and his counterpart on the back end of the defense Korby Sander, but the corner position is more than taken care of despite losing Austin Evans to graduation and Omar Brown to the transfer portal.
Stefan Black II -- who stepped up when Brown went down last season -- returns at CB, and opposite of him is Woo Governor, a transfer from Central Michigan who took minimal snaps defensively last season but is expected to step up in a big way this year.
Follow that with Jevon Brekke who has shown his ability to play a variety of positions and two big transfer additions in Damien Crumitie and Miguel Edwards and the secondary is one of the strongest groups on the entire roster.
This is what Sander -- who is returning for his seventh year in Cedar Falls -- told me:
The last time we had a DB room stacked like this was my true freshman year with Elijah Campbell, Malcolm Washington, and AJ Allen. I haven't seen a room this talented in a long time.
Edwin Dearman Stepping into the Nickel Position
Another defensive back of sorts is Edwin Dearman, who has been tasked with taking over for Alfonzo Lambert in the nickel position -- often considered to be a mixture of a DB and a linebacker. Dearman is a name Panther fans know after he stepped in following Sapp III being ejected in the upset of South Dakota State last season.
Coach Farley elaborated on the decision to move Dearman from safety to the nickel and get him on the field:
The best 11 players play. ... What I like about Edwin is that he's got a great motor and he's tough as heck. He'll strike you. ... The nickel has to be good -- really smart, great coverage ability, but has to hit like a linebacker and cover like a corner. That's a special position.
A Few Freshmen Are on Coach Farley's Radar
Playing as a freshman under Coach Farley doesn't happen very often, but among the recent class of freshmen that have come in, two have caught the eye of Farley and his staff.
One is Brady McCullough, a tight end from Ankeny High School that's been converted to receiver. Here's what Farley said:
We really like McCullough. He's a big, tall, strong player, and he's in the mix (of receivers who will earn time on the field).
The other is Dalesean Staley, a defensive back from Blue Springs High School in Kansas City. Farely said this:
I didn't expect him (to show up like he did). He flashes his talent. He has moments where I say 'Who's that?'
Sapp III told me this at practice later in the day:
If he plays this year, I won’t be surprised — whether it’s special teams or anything.
Players Aren't Sure Who's Going to Start at QB, Either
The incumbent starter from last season, Theo Day is getting a run for his money when it comes to the starting quarterback position. Matt Morrissey, a transfer from Trinity Valley Community College has been splitting the first team reps with Day.
This is what Farley said:
It's not time to pick the quarterback this early in camp -- it's time to find our (other) players because it's more about the continuity and the chemistry of the team than it is for just the quarterback.
He added that Monday of next week will likely be the day he determines who the starter for week one will be.
I asked one player who he thought would start and he told me this:
I don't know. I think it comes down to confidence for Matt. Theo has it because he started last year.
Others close to the program say the competition between the two has gotten closer as camp progressed.
UNI starts its season at Air Force on September 3.