CEDAR FALLS — Take it with a grain of salt is a term coaches like to use.
Northern Iowa football coach Mark Farley used it Monday when he released his two-deep depth chart in advance of the Panthers' season opener at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday in Ames.
It was a two deep that had five true freshmen listed on it, but ... .
"Don't trust it too much in that two deep," Farley said. "I don't know if you ever do. There will be some movement. No matter what you put down, it might change by Saturday."
Farley was true to his words as he released a second two deep later Monday afternoon that was vastly different than the first.
But it still had a common theme of upwards of 10 freshmen are in the conversation to play, from wide receivers Jalen Rima, Isaiah Weston and Christian Jegen to defensive linemen Sonny Onken, Davonius Reed and Marcel Minniefield to defensive back Xavior Williams.
"It is kind of fun, but a little worrisome," Farley said of potentially playing that many freshmen.
No different: A lot of excitement surrounds the Iowa State game, with its expected crowd of 61,500 and 7 p.m. kickoff.
Farley acknowledges there is a different aura about the game but at the same time says the Panthers are preparing no differently than if it was week six of the season.
"To me every game is exciting," Farley said. "You prepare the same way. It is the same attitude going in. We have played them enough that it is not that ... I don't see any difference than other games. The mindset is similar. I just think there is more spotlight on the game."
Twait back: After missing parts of preseason camp with a lower right leg issue, sophomore Cal Twait was listed as starting left tackle in UNI's two deep.
Farley said Twait would practice for the first time in a week Monday.
"He will practice. That one turned out good," Farley said. "We thought he might come back, but he will start practicing."
When Twait was injured in camp, it meant UNI was moving forward without two of its projected starting tackles. Right tackle Bryce Sweeney had back surgery over the summer and Farley ruled him out last week. Sweeney's name was listed as the backup to Rock Island Alleman grad Jacob Appleman on the two-deep.
Whether he returns to the lineup is yet to be seen, but Farley said missing those two guys during camp made the offensive line better.
"We had to do some things with the O-line, particularly when Twait went down," Farley said. "We had to move some guys to tackle or back into guard, that type of thing where you try to find the next best player."
Kicker: If the game were today, Austin Errthum, a sophomore from Kalona, would be UNI's starting placekicker. Errthum began his college career at Drake as a soccer player, but he arrived in Cedar Falls during the spring and quickly put his name into the conversation to replace Michael Schmadeke.
Errthum will be the first left-footed kicker for the Panthers since Mackenzie Hoambrecker served that role from 2000-02.
"Austin is the leading candidate right now," Farley said. "Unless something happens between now and actual kickoff, he is the guy."