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Hawkeyes look to prevent repeat performance from Persa

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | OCTOBER 12, 2011 7:20 AM

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Kirk Ferentz has seen some good opposing quarterbacks during his 12-plus seasons as Iowa's head coach. He's experienced the headaches of trying to prepare to face such players as Antwaan Randle El, Troy Smith, and Terrelle Pryor.

Northwestern's Dan Persa is at the top of the list. Ferentz didn't hesitate to mention him Tuesday in the same breath as Randle El — the former Indiana quarterback who finished his career with the fifth-most total offensive yards in NCAA history — after Persa victimized the Iowa defense in 2010.

He was 32-of-43, accounting for 368 total yards and three touchdowns while leading the Wildcats to a 21-17 victory.

Ferentz will try to prevent a similar performance Saturday, when the Hawkeyes play Northwestern in Kinnick Stadium.

"He played as well against us last year as any quarterbacks that we have faced, if you go back 12 years," Ferentz said. "… I would expect he's going to be ready to do the same thing this year."

Persa has played in just two games this season, needing until Oct. 1 to finally return from the ruptured Achilles he suffered last year against Iowa. But in those two games, he is 42-of-58 for 454 yards with four touchdowns and one interception, registering a quarterback rating of 157.5.

The Bethlehem, Pa., native is running less this season — he's totaled minus-8 rushing yards — but that doesn't lessen Ferentz's concern.

"He may not be running north and south, but he's running east, west," Ferentz said. "… He can still move and hurt you. The real danger right there is you've got a guy who can break the pocket and still throw the ball down the field. That really presents a challenge."

Trent Mossbrucker — QB?

Fans may have noticed an unfamiliar sight on the Iowa sideline during the Oct. 8 game at Penn State. Signaling in calls to James Vandenberg were fellow quarterbacks John Wienke and Jake Rudock — and junior kicker Trent Mossbrucker.

With A.J. Derby serving the first of a two-game suspension, Iowa coaches asked if the No. 2 kicker was willing to perform sideline signal duty.

"Absolutely," said Mossbrucker, who set career records at Mooresville (Ind.) High in completions (525) and passing yards (4,208).

Vandenberg — Mossbrucker's roommate — almost couldn't believe what he saw prior to kickoff.
"It was really funny to me when I came out, and I was warming up, and I looked, and Trent was throwing with Jake on the other side of the field," Vandenberg said. "I asked John what was going on."

Mossbrucker joked that Vandenberg "vastly underestimates my athletic ability all the time."

"I make him watch my [high-school] highlight video once a year, just so he knows I'm actually probably a better quarterback than he is," Mossbrucker said. "He's just got height on me, that's about it … I put in my highlight tape and shut him up."

Lowery back this week

Ferentz said Tuesday that sophomore corner B.J. Lowery — out since preseason camp because of a wrist injury — is available to play this week, though he will wear some form of protection on his wrist.

Lowery primarily played on special teams as a true freshman last season, recording five tackles.

"The reality is he has not practiced with pads on or a helmet on in basically two months," Ferentz said. "At least it's a start back, and we can get him going and get him back with the football team, and maybe he can help us out, depth-wise. We'll just keep bringing him along."


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