Cal Poly to face no. 21 Northern Iowa without fullback Joe Proth - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Cal Poly to face no. 21 Northern Iowa without fullback Joe Prothero

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The 2017 Cal Poly football team practiced Friday afternoon on a grass field adjacent to the UNI-Dome in preparation for its final non-conference game Saturday at 2 p.m. PDT against the UNI Panthers.

The Mustangs (0-2) are without senior fullback Joe Protheroe, who injured his right knee in last week's 34-13 loss at San Jose State. Head coach Tim Walsh said Friday that Protheroe "in all likelihood is lost for the season" and, since the Clayton Valley Charter High School graduate has yet to redshirt, will likely do so and be ready for the 2018 campaign.

Jared Mohamed, another senior fullback who gained 97 yards on 22 carries against San Jose State in the absence of Protheroe, will start Saturday, backed up by senior fullback/tight end Reagan Enger.

Also absent for Saturday's game are sophomore cornerback Kam Dennis (head injury) and sophomore wide receiver Jake Smeltzer (shoulder injury). Mark Reza or Kevin Griffin will start in place of Dennis while Victor Beglitsoff replaces Smeltzer at the Z-Back position.

Northern Iowa (0-1), ranked No. 21 in the FCS media and coaches polls this week, fell 42-24 to Iowa State in Ames, Iowa last Saturday. Panther quarterback Eli Dunne completed 23 of 38 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns, but also was intercepted three times, Iowa State returning two of them for scores.

Northern Iowa's other top returners are senior defensive back Malcolm Washington and senior linebacker Jared Farley, both named to the 2017 Missouri Valley Football Conference Preseason first team. Farley led the Panthers in tackles a year ago with 80.

Northern Iowa leads the series against Cal Poly, 6-1. The Mustang won the series opener 38-24 in 1997 in San Luis Obispo and the Panthers have won all six meetings since, including a 34-20 decision two years ago inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

Northern Iowa has made the FCS playoffs 18 times, missing the 2016 postseason after compiling a 5-6 record. Head coach Mark Farley has guided the Panthers to the postseason 12 times in 17 years at the helm. UNI has claimed 16 MVFC titles and is 203-54-1 inside the UNI-Dome.

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