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'Put up or shut up' Article from WIU Western Courier newspaper

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  • 'Put up or shut up' Article from WIU Western Courier newspaper

    'Put up or shut up'
    Homecoming features No. 8 Northern Iowa visiting Hanson Field in Gateway Conference opener
    By Kyle Dierking
    Published: Friday, September 30, 2005
    Article Tools: Page 1 of 1

    Junior quarterback Steve LaFalce will lead the Leathernecks against the eighth-ranked University of Northern Iowa Saturday.

    In four games this season, senior wide reciever Reggie Gray has collected 16 receptions for 189 yards.

    If there was a word to describe the Leathernecks football team heading into Saturday's Gateway Football Conference opener against the University of Northern Iowa Panthers, it would have to be attitude.

    "This Saturday is a day of reckoning. We have to put up or shut up," said Don Patterson, Western Illinois University football coach. "Northern Iowa isn't going to beat themselves and they aren't likely to make very many mistakes at all. We're going to have to play as close to error- free football as we can and even then we have to play with great emotion in order to win the game."

    Western heads into the Homecoming game with a 2-2 record, most recently coming off a convincing 70-7 win against Iowa Wesleyan College in its final non-conference contest.

    "We were able to not just win the game, but win and look good doing it," Patterson said. "It also gave us some momentum heading into the conference season and it gave us a chance to evaluate young talent."

    This week will pose a much greater challenge for the 'Necks in their initial conference game as UNI is ranked eighth in the nation, but as Patterson notes, that is the nature of the Gateway.

    "We recognize it's a real challenge to play well in the Gateway," Patterson said. "The reason why our players came here because they welcome that challenge and this is their first opportunity to deal with it on a game-day basis and I think they look forward to the challenge of playing well on Saturday. I'm confident they recognize that it will be an extreme test, it's a test we have to be at our best to be able to pass."

    UNI has a pair of running backs that begin with senior Terrance Freeney. Last season against Western, he rushed for 236 yards and two touchdowns and is on the watch list for the Walter Payton Award, which is handed out to the best offensive player in I-AA college football each season.

    "He's a tough hard-nosed runner and a very durable player," Patterson said. "He can gain a lot of yards after contact and the best chance you have to slow him down is to really pursue well to the ball and show it with more than one tackler."

    The other feature back is a new edition to the Panthers roster. Senior David Horne transferred from the University of Nebraska in January and has used his quickness to burn defenders by rushing for 139 yards and two touchdowns in three games this season.

    "He's got excellent speed and you have to realize he's capable of going the distance any time he has the ball," Patterson said. "You better be on your toes and have position of the football at all times otherwise you're subject to give up a big play."

    Under center for UNI is sophomore Eric Sanders. He ranks first in I-AA in passing efficiency and led the team in rushing with 49 yards in a 45-21 loss to the University of Iowa back on Sept. 17th. Sanders' has already thrown for 863 yards and nine touchdowns.

    "I think he would tell you that he's got an excellent receiving core and an offensive line that knows how to protect him," Patterson said. "They have excellent schemes and he understands what they're trying to do on offense and he's able to execute it really well."

    Western has won its last three Homecoming contests, most recently winning 29-27 over Indiana State University a year ago. Coincidentally enough, the only Homecoming loss for the 'Necks in the last eight years came against UNI in a 17-14 loss back in 2001.

    The game is set to kick off on tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. and Patterson knows the Gateway opener will be a big test.

    "Northern Iowa has the mindset right now that they can beat anybody in I-AA," Patterson said. "If I'd accomplished what they had done in that time frame I'd feel the same way."
    Irreverence is another person's disrespect to your god; there isn't any word that tells what your disrespect to his god is. -- Mark Twain

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