Turf toe might sideline Persa at IU
October 24, 2011 •
The Wildcats may be without the services of senior quarterback Dan Persa against Indiana as coach Pat Fitzgerald said Monday that Persa was questionable with turf toe in his left foot.
"Right now we've got him in a boot," Fitzgerald said. "It's one of those deals where you kind of sprain the joint in your toe. We'll just see how it responds as he goes through treatment."
Though Fitzgerald said following Northwestern's 34-24 loss to No. 21 Penn State on Saturday that Persa could have returned to the game after limping off the field in the fourth quarter, it now appears the injury is more serious.
NU did not make Persa available to the media on Monday, but Fitzgerald said he spoke with Persa earlier in the day after a team meeting.
"He said he felt much better," Fitzgerald said. "He said he was going to play, so same old Dan."
If Persa cannot play against Indiana this weekend or if he is limited, that will mean more reps for Kain Colter. The sophomore was the Cats' starting signal-caller for the first three games of the season while Persa recovered from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered last fall against Iowa. In those three games, Colter led NU to its only two victories of the season, passing for 390 yards with one touchdown while rushing for four scores and 237 yards.
Even with Persa back in the lineup, Colter has continued to get snaps at quarterback, running an option offense that has picked up decent yards on the ground.
"(Colter)'s just an extremely talented athlete and he's going to scramble out and run for 100 yards probably in the game," senior left tackle Al Netter said. "You do want to be able to hold your blocks a little bit longer. You never really know where the ball's going to be."
Persa picked up right where he left off after making the All-Big Ten first team last year, throwing for 990 yards and six touchdowns in four games since his return. However, he has not been the same dual-threat quarterback he was last year. After leading the Cats in rushing yards per game the previous season, he has rushed for minus-seven yards this year.
Persa's health has been a question mark throughout the season. There were originally thoughts he might be ready for the start of the 2011 season, but he misplanted his foot in June, which set him back a month in his recovery. Even with the summer setback, he was listed as questionable for NU's first two games of the season against Boston College and Eastern Illinois, but didn't play. He dressed for the team's third game of the season, a 21-14 loss to Army, but once again didn't play. In his first appearance of the season, he started against Illinois, only to be removed in the fourth quarter after taking a hit to his injured foot.
Fitzgerald remained optimistic that Persa would play on Saturday unless he doesn't recover from his injury as quickly as expected.
"We'll operate and expect Dan to play," Fitzgerald said. "Then we'll adjust accordingly."