Tag:Will Dan Persa Play
Posted on: September 27, 2011 6:36 pm

Dan Persa to start for Northwestern this week

Posted by Adam Jacobi

It's been nearly eleven months, but for Northwestern fans, the wait to see Dan Persa take the field is finally over. Persa, a senior quarterback from Bethlehem, PA, is set to finally return from a ruptured ACL this Saturday as Northwestern opens up its conference schedule against Illinois.

"I fully anticipate that Dan will play," coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "How much and all those things are to be determined in how the week goes. ... He's not only mentally ready, he's chomping at the bit to play."

Persa will be stepping back in for Kain Colter, the sophomore signal-caller who started all three games this season. Colter led the Wildcats to wins against Boston College and Eastern Illinois in Northwestern's first two contests, but the Wildcat offense sputtered in a 21-14 loss to Army in Week 3. Northwestern had a bye week last Saturday.

Persa's return, barring an unforeseen setback between now and Saturday, should have an immediate impact on what has been an inconsistent Northwestern offensive attack. Persa was second only to Wisconsin senior QB Scott Tolzein in passing efficiency among Big Ten quarterbacks last year, ranking ninth nationally, and he led the nation by completing 73.5% of his passes. Persa also led the Wildcats in rushing yards during the 2010 regular season, stepping in to cover for a running game that didn't find a consistent tailback until the emergency of Mike Trumpy late in the year.

Of course, that production all happened when Persa had two healthy legs, and while Persa's recovery has progressed to the point that he's being allowed to play ball again -- like, he's not going to be limping substantially with concerned trainers begging him to get off the field -- he's still going to have to play a different style of ball as he relearns to use and trust that leg in competition. That's not an immediate process, no matter how smart or brave any athlete is, but it's also not forever, so again, barring any major setbacks, we expect Persa to be as dynamic as ever by the end of this season and beyond.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 3:56 pm

Dan Persa 'questionable' for Northwestern opener

Posted by Adam Jacobi

There's been a great deal of, shall we say, conflicting information from Northwestern about vaunted quarterback Dan Persa as the Wildcats prepare for a Week 1 battle at Boston College. Persa is coming off a torn Achilles tendon 10 months ago in a 21-17 victory against Iowa, and while that's a major injury to suffer, expectations have been such that Persa would not only be back for 2011, but also be a Heisman candidate for the 'Cats.

Since then, we've been told that Persa's recovery has been ahead of schedule, that Kain Colter (the first-string quarterback during spring, while Persa was still out) had pulled even with Persa, that Persa said his repaired Achilles tendon was almost a 10 on a scale of 10, that Pat Fitzgerald expected Persa to start ... and now that Persa is listed as "questionable" for the game

As mentioned before, it's entirely possible that listing Colter as the "1b" starter at quarterback has less to do with Persa's recovery and more with Colter's improvement as a quarterback, especially since he's been spending enough time with the starting unit to develop a meaningful rapport and timing. If that's the case, Fitzgerald shouldn't have to worry too much about Persa's lingering Achilles issue, because Colter would be a legitimate quarterback to send out against Boston College and Persa wouldn't have to be forced into situations for which he's not fully prepared yet. That's not to say Persa or Fitzgerald represented the condition of Persa's Achilles, it's just that getting that rehab done is hardly the end of getting Persa back on the field and 100%. He's got a lot of conditioning and practice that he missed, so there's a readjustment process that varies for everybody, regardless of their character or commitment to the program.

That all said, we fully expect to see Persa on the field for some amount of time on Saturday. If the training staff really didn't think Persa could go, he'd be out; a long-term rehab project like this probably isn't on a day-to-day basis. Some sort of time-split scenario seems likely, and Fitzgerald has been comfortable with situations like that in the past -- especially with one quarterback dinged up.
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