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CEDAR FALLS | Briley Moore was still apologizing inside the garage after Northern Iowa had beaten Cal Poly.

The victory and how well the sophomore from Blue Springs, Missouri, had played wasn't what was most important to him.

Moore, the Panthers' 6-foot-3, 242-pound tight end, was agonizing over a personal foul penalty he picked up in the fourth quarter. At the end of a 25-yard reception, that would've put UNI first-and-10 at the Cal Poly 40, Moore ran over Mustang defensive back Daniel Fox as they went out of bounds.

Jacked up by the big play, Moore stood over Fox and let him know what just happened. The flag for unsportsmanlike conduct hit the field shortly after and the drive eventually stalled.

"That is a selfish play," Moore said.

"We had a good talk about it," UNI tight ends coach Nick Danielson said. "I don't want to take emotion out of a kid playing the game, and he plays with passion, but he knows what he did and ... we had a long talk about that."

The fact is everything leading up to the penalty was exactly what Danielson wants to see out of his tight ends, a good route to get open and strong finish ... the posterizing, that left something to be desired.

With that said, UNI knows it's got something special with its tight ends group.

The combination of Moore (11 catches for 127 yards) and Elias Nissen (3 catches for 19 yards) provide UNI with something the Panthers haven't had in many seasons, two viable pass-catching options at tight end. The 14 catches the two have through two games is already more than last season (9) and is equal to or more than each of the last five seasons.

In fact, Moore's 7-catch, 99-yard game against Cal Poly is the best single-game performance by a UNI tight end since Brian Cutright had eight catches for 98 yards in the first round of the 2005 playoffs against Eastern Washington.

"Briley is a very aggressive player and plays the game the way you want your tight ends to play. He plays it like a linebacker and wants to take hits to people," UNI head coach Mark Farley said. "He likes to be involved in every aspect ... enjoys blocking as much as catching. He's a blocking tight end that can catch the football and that is great because we can use it."

Moore hails from a fertile recruiting ground for UNI.

Moore played at Blue Springs South, while former defensive back Deiondre Hall played at Blue Springs. In addition, Carlos Anderson, who had 5,166 all-purpose yards from 2008-12 for UNI, is also from Blue Springs.

"I was hired to coach tight ends late, just before the season in 2015," Danielson said. "Jeremiah Johnson is our Kansas City recruiter, and he had been recruiting Briley. They handed me a list and said here are the tight ends we are looking at and said let us know what you think. They did so without telling me who they had offered, and Briley had been offered, and kind of wanted to get my actual opinion.

"I put Briley on the top of the list, no question, not knowing we had already offered him."

A wide receiver in high school, Moore, who picked UNI over late overtures from the Naval Academy, knew he was destined to play tight end.

"I credit coach Danielson for getting me to embrace and fulfill the role of a tight end ... installing the mentality we are going to run through a brick wall," Moore said. "That is what you got to do to win. That is the mentality you have to have."

Moore arrived on campus weighing around 217 and played most of last season, as a true freshman, at 225. A summer in the weight room with Jed Smith has seen an additional 20 pounds of muscle added to Moore's frame.

"It's a huge difference," Moore said. "Last year the only time I really went in was on pass plays. Now I get in the game in 11 and 12 personnel and we are running power. That is cool."

"He runs like he is 220, but plays like he is 260," added Danielson. "We knew he could catch the ball. I don't want to call it a concern, but our question was could he block because we knew he was tough enough."

There are two other huge keys to the early success Moore is having. The first is quarterback Eli Dunne has connected with eight or more different receivers in each of UNI's first two games.

The second is Nissen, UNI's TE 1-a.

"The unsung hero in all of this is Elias," Danielson said. "What people don't realize is every ball Briley caught, Elias was in pass protection because we were in max protect."

Contact Jim Nelson at jim.nelson@wcfcourier.com.


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