Northwestern offensive coordinator Mick McCall is one of the nation's more underrated quarterback coaches.
Since he arrived before the 2008 season, he has helped C.J. Bacher, Mike Kafka and Dan Persa become some of the Big Ten's best signal-callers.
McCall faces yet another challenge today as sophomore Kain Colter will make his first start at quarterback in the season opener at Boston College. Persa, still hampered by a surgically repaired Achilles tendon, isn't dressed for the game and won't play.
It's certainly tough news for Northwestern and its All-Big Ten quarterback, although not surprising after the preseason. Colter took the majority of reps with the first-team offense in camp and showed improvement as a passer. Persa looked fine with his passing but struggled to move around. His legs helped him immensely in 2010, and Northwestern needs its quarterbacks to be running threats.
Still, it's a little surprising that Persa hasn't even dressed for the game. You have to wonder why Northwestern launched a Heisman Trophy campaign for the senior when his playing status was in doubt. I wouldn't expect to see Persa until a Week 3 matchup against Army, at the earliest.
Colter faces a good Boston College defense and must show he's more than a good athlete. He must connect on Northwestern's high-percentage passes, use a very good group of receivers and tight ends and limit major mistakes. It'll be a tough task.
The Wildcats need to rally around Colter and show that they can win without Persa. Northwestern fell apart on both sides of the ball last season after Persa ruptured his Achilles tendon in a Nov. 13 win against Iowa.
Will Kain be able? We'll find out very soon.