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updated: 9/5/2011 2:20 PM

Colter's winning NU debut sorely reminiscent of Persa's

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  • Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter (2) gets some blocking help as he looks to pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday against Boston College in Boston.

    Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter (2) gets some blocking help as he looks to pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday against Boston College in Boston.
    Associated Press


When Pat Fitzgerald says Kain Colter's debut Saturday reminded him of Dan Persa's debut last year, that's both a compliment and a concern.

Both Northwestern quarterbacks won their first starts on the road against a BCS foe. Both completed more than 70 percent of their throws and ran for more than 70 yards as they proved to be true dual threats. Both appeared impervious to the pressure.

And, alas, both exposed their bodies to an inappropriate number of hits.

Persa, who's not expected to play in Saturday's home opener against Eastern Illinois to give his healed Achilles tendon more time, admitted during the offseason that he spent too much time being sore in 2010 because he didn't avoid contact often enough.

Colter wasn't quite ready to go there Monday -- though he had X-rays after the game and admitted taking a decent shot to his hip after his touchdown run -- so Fitzgerald went there for him.

"Kain's going through a little bit of the lesson that Danny went through," Fitzgerald said. "Kain's a little sorer than he should be today because of Kain. Hopefully he's going to learn. Otherwise he's going to get his lips knocked off."

Colter spent part of his Sunday getting in the ice tub and running on the underwater treadmill.

"Nothing out of the normal," Colter said. "Everyone's going to wake up feeling a little sore, a little stiff. That's just part of the game of football."

Colter carried 23 times for 71 yards while completing 17 of 24 throws for 197 yards and 1 interception.

The pick came deep in NU territory when slot receiver Jeremy Ebert had a "Y option" and chose to cut inside when Colter expected him to cut outside.

While Boston College's offense took advantage of the turnover for a touchdown, Persa worked with Colter, Ebert and offensive coordinator Mick McCall on the sidelines to smooth things over. The solution?

"We took away that (Y) option," Fitzgerald said.

Konopka praise: Fremd graduate Jack Konopka was one of three true freshmen to play in Saturday's opener against Boston College.

While wide receiver Christian Jones and running back Treyvon Green touched the ball and Konopka didn't, Pat Fitzgerald suggested the 285-pound tight end made the biggest impact of the three.

"I thought he played with an attitude on Saturday," Fitzgerald said. "He didn't look like a freshman out there. He got (All-American middle linebacker Luke) Kuechly down a couple times on some option plays. Played physical at the point of attack. Was very pleased with that."

Injury update: Senior defensive tackle Jack DiNardo injured his leg Saturday -- likely on his second-quarter sack of BC quarterback Chase Rettig -- and won't play Saturday against Eastern Illinois.

Sophomore Will Hampton moved up to first-string on the depth chart, though Pat Fitzgerald said redshirt freshman Chance Carter will compete for the chance to start.

Running back Mike Trumpy "got his bell rung" on a carry late in the fourth quarter. Trumpy, who recovered his own fumble on the play, didn't look good on the sidelines but hasn't been ruled out for Saturday. He led the Wildcats with 85 yards and 1 TD in 15 carries.

"I thought he played pretty physical," Fitzgerald said. "Again, he's got to take care of the football. I made it pretty crystal-clear today two things to the team:

"If you're not going to take care of the football, you're not going to play here. And, No. 2, if you don't work on stripping the ball out the way we demand in-game, then I'm going to run our defense's tails off on Monday."

Northwestern didn't force Boston College to put the ball on the ground while the Wildcats committed two fumbles if you count a Colter mishandled snap.

"The way that we performed around the football as a program on Saturday was completely and totally unacceptable," Fitzgerald said.