Northwestern’s Life After QB Dan Persa Begins with a Loss


Today was Northwestern starting quarterback Dan Persa’s 22nd birthday. Many of his approximately 2,500 Facebook friends posted well wishes on his Facebook wall. But with a 48-27 loss to the in-state rival Illini, in an ultra-hyped contest that injury precluded him from taking part, I’m guessing he’s had better birthdays than this.

Persa brought a lot to NU’s table: a 15-4 TD pass to INT ratio, #1 in the nation in fewest interceptions thrown percentage (302 attempts), 74% completion percentage (also tops in all of college football, and a Big Ten record), The Silver Football trophy candidate also led the team in rushing yards.

His replacement in today’s Wrigleyville Classic, redshirt freshman Evan Watkins, finished 10-20 for just 135 yards, one interception, no touchdown passes. He also ran 7 times for 15 yards. Obviously, there was a huge drop-off in offensive production with NU being sans Persa.

Illinois Head Coach Ron Zook on how Persa’s injury affected NU: “How much did not having Martez Wilson affect our defense last year?”

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Northwestern QB Dan Persa Ruptures Achilles, Out for Season

dan persa passing

The Northwestern Wildcats 21-17 upset win over #13 the Iowa Hawkeyes came at a price, a hefty price. They lost one of the most valuable players in the Big Ten, and college football overall, in Junior QB Dan Persa.

Persa threw the game winning,  20-yard TD pass to Demetrius Fields with 1:22 left, but ruptured his Achilles just after the play ended.  Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn, a favorite for Big Ten Defensive player of the year, was blitzing him, but only lightly brushed him. A back-side Iowa rusher also went past Persa untouched. It appeared that Persa may have jumped up, or was about to commence running after the play, expressing the positive emotion of a thrilling comeback, which culminated in a 91-yard drive.

Either way, the freak injury means Persa will miss the final two games, along with NU’s bowl appearance. Redshirt Freshman Evan Watkins, a native of suburban Carol Stream, will start next week versus the Illinois Fighting Illini at the Cubs’ Wrigley Field in the Allstate Wrigleyville Classic.

By Paul M. Banks

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