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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Northwestern Passing Attack breaking in new QB, WRs

northwestern passing

During his time at the podium at Big Ten Media Day, Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald discussed how his team’s appearance in a New Year’s Day bowl is changing the program’s national image.

“I believe our system is quarterback friendly. It’s amazing, when you come out of the Outback Bowl, I get a bunch of calls from quarterbacks nationally saying:  So you throw the ball 79 times?  Cool.  Okay.  So obviously it’s pretty quarterback friendly from the standpoint of development, too.”

Ah yes, the 2010 Outback Bowl, it was certainly one for the ages. Nine FBS and/or NCAA records were set in that 38-35 overtime loss to Auburn. A game where NU out-gained the Tigers by nearly 200 yards, and QB Mike Kafka set a NCAA record for offensive plays (78 passing, 20 running) compiling 562 yards. He also threw for a school (and Outback Bowl) record 532.

By Paul M. Banks

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Dan Persa taking over for Mike Kafka in Northwestern Air Show

persa

Last year, Northwestern led the Big Ten in passing offense and were among the national leaders in passing completions and plays per game. Their offense was extremely fun to watch as their QB Mike Kafka was one of the nation’s best in the total offense department, and wide receiver Zeke Markshausen was essentially the Wes Welker of college football; one of the best go-to receivers you can find on third down.

But today, Markshausen is at Chicago Bears camp and Kafka was a fifth round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles.

So this fall, it’s Dan Persa‘s turn to take the reigns.

By Paul M. Banks

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