• In usual Northwestern fashion, it was another fast-paced and high-intensity practice—especially when the ones-against-ones drill began. Every play concluded with screaming—either encouragement or anger. There may not be a more productive practice in the country.
• Last week, Dan Persa said he doesn't even consider himself to be injured anymore. The media's ‘Persa Watch' will officially end on Saturday, but Persa is no longer considered to be injured in the program's eyes. This will be the first game week that Persa does not need to be cleared by the team's medical staff. Pat Fitzgerald told me after practice, "He's good to go."
• Persa continues to take a majority of first-team reps, and has been impressive. To no surprise, his throws appear to be dead-on accurate and it's very encouraging to see his mobility is back at 100 percent. All news appears to be positive in the final days of Persa Watch.
• Persa's best pass of the day was a perfect 40-yard strike to Drake Dunsmore, but the ball went through the superback's hands. Even so, Persa scrambled on the play and made a strong and accurate throw.
• Fitzgerald was asked if it's important to hold the moniker, "Chicago's Big Ten Team" with a win over the Illini. Fitzgerald pointed out, "We're the only team in Chicago…..we're not Central Illinois' Big Ten team." He later added, "It's important for us to play our game, we focus on ourselves."
• Mike Trumpy has had a strong week of practice, and will likely factor into the offense on Saturday as Persa gets a good grip of the reigns. Trumpy appears to be running with more force, and is learning to incorporate his strength in each run.
• Now just three days into his return from injury, Collin Ellis continues to work in at ‘Sam' linebacker. Ellis finds himself second on the depth chart behind Ben Johnson, but is aiming to earn the starting job. In the meantime, he'll likely see plenty of playing time.
• Think this is just an ordinary game? That's not the case for this team. Both Brandon Vitabile and Brian Peters admitted that the significance of playing for the Land of Lincoln Trophy means a lot, and said they are motivated to win back the trophy.
Game week preparations continue on Thursday, as the Wildcats hold a closed practice in the morning. Stay with PurpleWildcats.com for more Illinois week coverage.