Maybe there’s a significant injury, maybe there’s not. Maybe this is just a little gamesmanship, an opportunity to keep the opponent guessing.
Maybe they’ll both play. Who knows?
If UNI Coach Mark Farley does, he’s not telling.
“Not a lot of news, to be honest with you,” Farley said on his radio show Thursday, when asked about his quarterback situation. “Not a lot. We’re progressing toward this game and trying to find out what the best combination is to having a chance to win.”
This all started late in the third quarter of last Saturday’s 22-20 loss to Stephen F. Austin at the UNI-Dome. Rennie was horse-collar tackled by former University of Iowa safety David Cato after a long run and had to leave the game.
You presume Rennie suffered some sort of neck injury, though replays of the tackle also showed Rennie grabbing one of his knees. Davis came in to replace him and quarterbacked Northern Iowa the rest of the way.
Farley was evasive in his postgame press conference when asked about Rinnie’s injury, adding the QB may have even been able to return to the game. He’s been equally evasive this week about who will quarterback Saturday.
UNI’s depth chart has both players listed as the starter.
“I’m not the style (of coach) making a plan that you get so many (snaps),” Farley said. ”We’ll start a player and see how the game unfolds. The other player will always prepared and prepared the same way as the other, and then we’ll move from there. Injuries will happen, and that will dictate a lot. When you run the style of offense we do, you’re going to take some hits.”
A junior-college transfer from Florida, Rennie had a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage against Stephen F. Austin. He had 132 rushing yards and 162 passing when he left the game, including an 83-yard TD pass to Jarred Herring.
Davis, a junior from Washington, completed 6 of 11 passes for 98 yards in relief but fumbled the ball away on a rushing attempt midway through the fourth quarter. Rennie fumbled inside the SFA 5 in the second.
“You just prepare all week to get in there,” Davis said. “You’re the second-string quarterback, but you prepare as if you’re the starter. When you finally get the chance to get in there, you just have to do everything you can to put the ball in the end zone.”
That’s been UNI’s problem its first two games, as it has made eight trips to the red zone but has only one touchdown. That must change if the Panthers want to upset their FCS big brother.
No matter who the quarterback is.
“Zach … fits the mold, as far as he’s a tough kid, a very good thrower, very accurate,” Farley said. ”He understands our system, has the ability to run as well as throw. But he’s been in our system for three years and was projected to be our starter coming into this season. We felt very good about that.
“Tirrell is new to our system, just got here in January, but he’s a very fluent player in the pocket. He’s got good movement. His background, of course, since he was a little kid was option football. So he’s pretty fluent at that right now, and he’s a very good thrower as well. That kind of made the difference trying to make the decision on the two was because of what they brought to our team.”