116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — The obstacles of playing college football amid a pandemic continue to challenge Northern Iowa.
After finding out last Friday morning that starting quarterback Will McElvain would be unavailable against Missouri State due to COVID-19 protocols, Coach Mark Farley acknowledged this week the Panthers didn't overcome their last-minute transition of QBs looking back on their 13-6 loss to the Bears.
'Losing (McElvain) on a Friday morning was tougher to overcome than what I wanted to believe it (was),' Farley said. 'Secondly as I look back on it, the continuity in our offensive line and our tight end play, that's been a mixed bag this whole season. They've all done well, but there's probably been too much of a change in players out there to get some rhythm going with them.'
Despite the offense's struggles, Farley was complimentary of emergency starter Justin Fomby.
The redshirt freshman — who was a highly regarded three-star recruit from Georgia in 2019 — completed 18 of 29 passes for 215 yards and one interception in his debut. After throwing that first interception of his career, Fomby responded, leading UNI's offense on an 11 play, 65-yard drive to end the first half with a field goal to get within one possession of the Bears.
'I thought Justin really did a nice job, because he got an opportunity and he made me very aware of Justin Fomby right now because of how he performed in that game,' Farley said. 'He really showed to be a college football quarterback by how he threw that football the other night. To go out there with 24 hours notice that you're the starter and throw the ball 30 times, 62-percent completion rate and the yards that he got, man, good for him.'
Farley said COVID-19 protocols will keep McElvain out for this Saturday's game at Western Illinois and Fomby will again get the start with Nate Martens as his backup.
Quarterback decisions aside, the Panthers' loss to Missouri State all but eliminated them from the 16-team FCS playoffs. So, when asked if he's concerned about players sticking to their health and safety protocols with the playoffs out the window, Farley said he's confident his team will continue to stay in their bubbles.
'I don't see that from our football team,' Farley said. 'Everybody's got a role and your role might change within one phone call from the scout team to a starter overnight.'