"He's improving every day," said NU head coach Pat Fitzgerald. "We feel confident that he's just going to continue to keep going down that track, and then we'll see how things go and progress throughout the course of the week, but like I said, I think 1,000,432 times, he's the guy and he's going to do everything in his power to get healthy and play."
It seemed apparent through preseason camp that Dan Persa would be the starting quarterback for week one. NU is fully invested in their star quarterback, who they touted to the nation as a Heisman contender. Suddenly, there is some uncertainty.
Just five days before game day, Persa is still limping and it is unclear whether he will play on Saturday.
"If he's ready to go, he'll start, if he's not, he won't," said Fitzgerald of Persa. "Earth-shattering statement right there."
Persa is listed as the starting quarterback in the depth chart released on Friday, and has not missed a practice since the start of fall camp. Prior to Saturday, Persa will have to be cleared by Northwestern's medical staff in order to play.
"It'll always be health, safety and well-being to start out with," said Fitzgerald. "Once he's cleared by the medical staff, then it'll be our decision on how he's going to go through and execute our game plan. Pretty simple."
If Persa is unable to play on Saturday, sophomore Kain Colter will step in as the starting quarterback.
Colter saw action in three games during his freshman season. He racked up 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the TicketCity Bowl, but completed just three of nine passes on the season—one of those passes going for an interception.
Since starting preseason camp last season, Colter has made vast improvements. However, he lacks starting experience. Even so, Colter will have to be ready come Saturday.
"Does he have 25 games of game experience? Not really," said Fitzgerald. "He's definitely got a ton of reps, and he's poised to go if that's what ends up happening and how the cards play out."
Whether it is Dan Persa or Kain Colter at quarterback on Saturday, Fitzgerald feels confident.
"We're good, we're great, actually," Fitzgerald said of the quarterbacks. "We have full confidence in whatever direction we're going to go."
So for now, Persa's status for Saturday is up in the air. The NU staff will know who the starter is before Saturday but Wildcat fans will have to wait.
"Internally we will make that (decision) prior to game day," Fitzgerald said. "You guys will find out when the ball goes in the air."