Colter Steps Up

Is he ColterFast? Maybe ColterAccurate? How about ColterShifty? Either way, Northwestern is in good hands.

Kain Colter faced a tough task in his first start, and rose to the challenge and led the Wildcats to victory.

With Dan Persa ruled unable to play, Colter stepped in and gave Northwestern production on offense. He finished completing 17 of 24 passes for 197 yards, while adding 90 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Colter helped turn the game in the Wildcats' favor by leading two-consecutive 80-yard touchdown drives, which gave Northwestern the lead.

The most essential benefit which Colter provided was simple—he gave his team a chance to win.

"I thought he really stepped up," Pat Fitzgerald said of Colter. "A true sophomore, first start on the road, he finds a way to win, that's a good job."

Northwestern's offense was able to maintain balance—even without Persa. Colter completed passes to eight different receivers. The Wildcats' rushing attack featured three rushers—Colter included—with more than 50 yards rushing. As a whole, NU finished with 227 yards on the ground.

Colter struggled to find rhythm on offense during his first few series, but settled in nicely and moved the offense. More importantly, he helped the team reach the endzone.

"He made some big plays when he needed to," Jeremy Ebert said of Colter's performance. "He put it in the endzone, so I'm really happy with him. I'm proud of him."

When Persa was injured last season, Northwestern was left without a reliable backup plan. Evan Watkins assumed the starting job, but struggled in that role. Colter took snaps to compliment Watkins and give the offense some extra speed, but he could not be counted on to run the offense.

This season, things are different for Colter. He is prepared.

Colter has had nine months since the end of his freshman season. Since then, he has gained valuable experience and has a better knowledge of how to run the offense.

In the weeks leading up to the Boston College game, Northwestern coaches had Colter—not Persa—working in as the first-team quarterback. In the long-run, those reps were beneficial. Colter became the starter and it all worked out.

Whether Pat Fitzgerald knew or didn't know Colter would start remains unknown, but the sophomore stepped in nicely and earned a win.

"I thought he handled it really well," Fitzgerald said of Colter's game.

Persa's status remains unclear for the immediate future. Illinois may be the target game for his return. If he's unable to play, Colter will continue on as the starter. On Saturday, Colter showed he can handle that role.

"I'm proud of him," said Ebert. "He battled it out and played his heart out. You can't ask for anything more than that."

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