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Defensive & Offensive Players to Watch: Week 1

What to Look for Against UNI

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Oregon v Iowa State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Iowa State

OFFENSE This one won’t surprise you, but there’s no need to overthink it. Breece Freakin’ Hall. One of the best running backs in school history behind one of the most cohesive offensive lines, that’s a recipe for success. UNI is solid defensively, as they usually are, but Breece Hall basically is good for 100 yards no matter who’s on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Look for Breece to be the star of the show Saturday.

DEFENSE JR Singleton was probably the biggest eyebrow raiser of the depth chart release. The redshirt freshman leapfrogged Isaiah Lee for the starting spot at nose tackle. We’ll have a good dosage of both players as the D-Line cycles through their rotations, but I’m excited to see what the coaching staff saw in Singleton to give him the nod. Campbell is known to trust upper classmen, even if the younger guys might show more promise or skill.

That being said, I expect JR Singleton to bring something to the table almost immediately. He’s certainly someone to keep an eye on week one, before he goes up against Iowa’s All-American Tyler Linderbaum in week two.

Northern Iowa v Iowa State Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

UNI

OFFENSE Will McElvain is no stranger to Jack Trice. In his first career start he pushed Iowa State to triple overtime. If not for a heroic fumble recovery by Brock Purdy, that season might’ve started with a Panther miracle and a Cyclone nightmare.

McElvain is great at improvising on broken plays, or scrambling when his first few reads aren’t there. Iowa State has a history of struggling with scrambling QB’s. Fortunately for Iowa State, UNI’s pass block was a tad shaky last year, and the Cyclones might sack him before he can get out of the pocket.

DEFENSE Omar Brown is the standout corner for UNI, I expect him to be given the Xavier Hutchinson assignment come Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see how many times Purdy targets Hutchinson, or if he’ll opt to throw to a different weapon with a lesser defender.

When Brown was targeted last year, which wasn’t often, he had five pass break ups leading UNI in that statistic. Brown also had one interception last year in an odd FCS Spring Schedule.