Mark Farley

Farley

CEDAR FALLS -- There are several things fans won't be able to do Saturday when sixth-ranked South Dakota has the football against Northern Iowa.

Among those things are blinking, looking down, back or sideways, go to the concession stand or bathroom or even take their eyes off the field.

The Coyotes (7-1, 4-1) like to go fast, lightning fast, and the Panthers (4-4, 3-2) will get to experience it first hand when the two kickoff at 1 p.m. Saturday inside the UNI-Dome.

"They go about as fast as anybody in the FCS football, probably anybody in football right now," UNI head coach Mark Farley said. "I've seen 95, 98 plays on film.

"For instance, the two teams that played Saturday, our NDSU game, I think they had 66 plays, and we had 60 some odd plays."

Farley's numbers are a little off, but he is in the ballpark. USD has had five games where it has run 85 plays or more, and have not played a game where it has run less than 70 plays. The Panthers have only went over 70 plays twice with a season-high of 82 at South Dakota State.

Farley says USD wants to snap the ball quickly, and a lot of times he sees the Coyotes snap the ball 10 seconds after the previous play has ended. The effect on defenses is twofold.

"There is fatigue, and it creates error," Farley said. "It will be a good weeks of work to prepare. The defense has to execute quickly."

One way to combat USD's quick offense, led by Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year leading candidate Chris Streveler, is don't let the Coyotes have the ball.

Farley, without giving away the game plan, said, "the best thing you can do is have a good offense and sustain drives."

USD ran a season-low 70 plays and had a season-low 280 yards last week in an impressive bounce back, 42-0, victory over Southern Illinois, one week after it had suffered its first loss of the season, a 37-21 loss to Illinois State.

However, the Coyotes scored on their first three drives, and their defense returned interceptions 97 and 79 yards for touchdowns.

"The statistics become very misleading when you have defensive touchdowns," USD coach and former Wartburg head coach Bob Nielson said. "Because when your defense scores it goes right back on the field so you lose offensive play opportunities. It was one of those games were yardage wasn't important."

There was question whether Streveler would be available this week after he suffered a stinger in the first half of the game against the Salukis and did not return.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Minnesota transfer, whom Farley says could be the fastest player on the field Saturday, has rushed for 478 yards and eight scores and passed for 2,317 and 19 touchdowns.

Nielson said Streveler, who practiced Tuesday, should be in position to play Saturday saying he could've returned to the game against Southern Illinois, but with back-up Austin Simmons playing well, and USD leading by four scores, it was unnecessary.

"He is a great quarterback that really makes their offense go," Farley said of Streveler.

The Panthers hope to bounce back after losing at No. 2 North Dakota State last week with a victory getting them back on track.

With that thought noted, UNI knows a loss Saturday, factoring in the Panthers strength of schedule (No 1 in the FCS) and high Sagarin ranking, won't eliminate the possibility of a post-season berth. The team, however, is going to play like each of its final three games -- at Missouri State (2-6) next Saturday and at home against Indiana State (0-8) Nov. 18 -- like the playoffs have already started.

"Coach Simmonds (offensive line coach Mike Simmonds) told us every game needs to be played like a playoff game," offensive tackle Bryce Sweeney said. "Every game we have left is a playoff game. The best mentality right now is to play every play like it is your last play because you never know when your last play will be."

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