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Featured matchup: Adrian Clayborn vs. Dan Persa

BY MITCH SMITH | NOVEMBER 12, 2010 7:20 AM

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Name: Adrian Clayborn (and the rest of the Iowa defense)
Year: Senior
Position: Defensive end

Breakdown: After facing a pass-heavy Indiana offense last week, the Hawkeyes will once again match up against an offense with a knack for throwing the football.

Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa is second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game (251.4), just behind the Hoosiers' Ben Chappell. But there's one major difference between Chappell and Persa — the ability to run. The Wildcats' quarterback had a big role in ending the Hawkeyes' undefeated season in 2009, throwing a touchdown pass and leading Northwestern with 67 rushing yards.

He has become a much more versatile quarterback since then, and he will certainly present a test for the Iowa defense, especially Clayborn and Company along the defensive line. The guys up front will likely have a hard time of pressuring Persa, who gets the ball out of his hands quickly.

"He presents a lot of challenges just with being able to run the ball and throw the ball a lot," safety Tyler Sash said. "It's just something that were going to have to key on him more than usual."

Name: Dan Persa
Year: Junior
Position: Quarterback

Breakdown: After backing up Mike Kafka in 2009 and playing mostly in running situations, Persa has evolved into one of the nation's most efficient passers. Besides Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and Michigan's Denard Robinson, Persa's the most versatile quarterback in the conference.

Persa ranks 10th in the nation in passing efficiency, completing 73.36 percent of his passes. He averages 251.4 passing yards and 52.1 rushing yards per game and comes off a 109-rushing-yard performance against Penn State — his largest output of the season.

His ability to throw and run should keep the Hawkeye defense guessing. The Wildcats will sometimes run a formation of five wide receivers, only to have Persa run a draw play for a big gain.

"He gets the job done," Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi said. "However he needs to score touchdowns — whether it's throwing or it's on the run — he's done it. He's been a heck of a player for them."


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