This offseason, Northwestern created a website,, to support its quarterback Dan Persa’s Heisman campaign in 2011. But what if Persa isn’t strong enough to last the season?

Since rupturing his Achilles’ tendon against Iowa last season, Persa missed the Wildcats’ last three games and the team went 0-3. He’s still recovering from the injury and missed the first three games of the 2011 season due to the same injury.

But before he got injured, Persa set a Big Ten record completing 73.5 percent of his passes last season. Simply put, the dual-threat Persa is Northwestern’s offense.

At Big Ten Media Day in August, Persa sat down with the Daily to talk about the upcoming season.

The Michigan Daily: Whenever someone mentions the Northwestern offense, it starts with you. What does that mean to you that you’re the catalyst?

Dan Persa: I think anytime you’re the quarterback, you’re going to be the focal point of the offense, especially in the spread. You’re always counted on to make the best plays and put your team in the best positions.

TMD: You’ve had injuries in the past. How have they shaped you?

Persa: Looking back on last year, I think I ran too much. I kind of look at the injuries as a blessing in disguise, to improve on some of the things I want to improve on in the pocket.

It all depends on how you look at it.

I’m probably not going to be so ready to run as I was last year. Because I think last year, my safety net was, if a play broke down or if I wasn’t sure of what was going on, I would just run. And sometimes it’d be fine because I was athletic.

I think now, I’m going to rely on making the right decisions, making the right plays and going from there.

TMD: You’re not going to be scared to run, are you?

Persa: No, yeah, exactly. Not scared to run, just being smarter with the ball and my body.

TMD: When healthy, are you faster than some of your skill position guys?

Persa: Not anymore. Caught up with me last year.

TMD: Because of the injuries?

Persa: No, just because the guys are faster. We’ve got some fast guys.

TMD: What were you working on this offseason to get better?

Persa: I think just making throws from the pocket. That’s really what I’ve been working on. And really just focusing on making the reads downfield and executing the play.

TMD: With Jeremy Ebert and Co., it seems you have a lot of quality receivers to throw to. What’s it like throwing to a deep group of wideouts?

Persa: I think we’ve got a lot of guys who make a lot of plays and that’s why I’m excited to get the ball to them instead of running.

TMD: How’s your spread offense set up? Can you just pick and choose as the quarterback?

Persa: For the most part. I mean, we have direction and we have concepts that we direct our eyes to and you always have safety nets. But I think last year, instead of going to the safety nets, I would just run instead of throwing a five-yard out. That’s where I need to improve.

TMD: What did you learn about yourself as a quarterback last season, during your breakout year?

Persa: I learned that I can play with the best. And at the same time, I learned I have a lot to improve on. Taking better care of the ball and doing the little things to be successful.

TMD: How do you and coach Pat Fitzgerald plan on getting Northwestern back on the map?

Persa: I think just winning games, at the end of the day. That’s all we can do. That’s all we can control. Can’t control what the media thinks about us or how they portray us. I think, just working as hard as we can to prepare ourselves to win as many games as we can.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.