Admit it, you, the Wildcat fan, did not have that mindset going into Saturday's game. Kain Colter had no starting experience and had only thrown nine passes. Looking back in hindsight, he did everything Northwestern needed to win the game.
The offense sputtered in the first quarter, but Colter found his groove. That resulted in two-consecutive 80-yard drives, and eventually opening up a two-touchdown lead, all this in a hostile road environment.
Many worried what the offense would look like without Dan Persa. When Persa was sidelined last season, the offense—and subsequently, the defense—was a disaster. A more confident Colter put aside any worries.
Colter was a major success in his first career start. No, he did not rack up the pretty Heisman-like numbers that Persa posts on a regular basis. Instead, Colter did all he was asked to do—win.
Northwestern will released their weekly injury report today, and it will more than likely leave us no evidence of Persa's status for Saturday. In all probability, he will not play. Instead, Colter will probably make his second start.
That's just fine. In fact, don't play Persa against Army either.
With all due respect to Eastern Illinois and Army, they don't quite measure up to what the Wildcats will face in the Big Ten slate. The best part of this? After the Army game, Northwestern has a bye week. That's just one more week of recovery for Persa.
Why rush him back?
Colter showed he has no problem running the offense. He gained confidence in his arm during his first start, and his natural running ability posed a tough challenge for the Golden Eagles' run defense, which has not allowed more than 200 yards in two years.
The Wildcats have a great stable of running backs with Mike Trumpy, Adonis Smith, Jacob Schmidt, and then freshman Trevyon Green, who is likely to see more carries against Eastern Illinois. The NU receiving core is very deep, and Colter made use of his reliable targets when needed.
Let's be realistic, these next two matchups are games the Wildcats should win. There's no need to play Persa if he is not ready.
Northwestern's nightmare scenario would be for Persa to suffer a setback in either of these next two games, and miss part of Big Ten play. Why risk it?
Kain is able (had to drop that in) to run the offense, and should have no problem leading Northwestern to victories over the Panthers and Black Knights. Give Persa some much-needed rest. He needs it.