If you thought a concussion was going to slow down Kain Colter, he was out to prove you wrong.
The senior quarterback started one week after exiting the game against Cal with an “upper body injury” and lit up Syracuse with both his arms and legs, leading to a 48-27 Northwestern victory.
The team was mum on whether he would actually play tonight, but he entered on the first play of the game and needed exactly 51 seconds to lead the team down the field for a touchdown, immediately erasing any ideas that he had lingering effects of an injury.
“I felt like that first series came a little bit too easy,” Colter said. “I wanted to get used to it so they made some adjustments and fixed some things so I needed to settle down a little bit but really that was kind of my first game and I felt good. As time went on, I felt a lot more comfortable.”
Colter played a nearly perfect first half, hitting 11 of 12 passes for 96 yards and touchdown. And that was just with his arm. He added 67 yards and a score with his legs and took some big hits along the way. But Colter said he was completely symptom-free for the majority of the week, so he wasn’t hesitant to play his usual game.
“I’d say I felt 100 percent normal ever since Sunday afternoon,” he said. “Ever since then I’ve felt good, but you know, nowadays, people are really worried about the concussions and they don’t want to push things so we have our protocol and I had to follow that. Thank God for that because guys would try to rush in and maybe make it worse. But it ended up working out.”
Colter knows the protocol for concussions, but that didn’t stop him from trying to bend the rules last week again Cal. Coach Pat Fitzgerald said Colter was in his ear the entire game, trying to convince the coach to let him on the field.
“Kain was getting after me on the boundary out at Cal, wanting to play, and that was just non-negotiable,” Fitzgerald said. “He was really hungry to play today. He kind of felt like he lost an opportunity a week ago and it wasn’t any of his doing or our doing. It just is what it is. He really responded this week really well in practice. He had a great week of practice.”
Since the negotiating didn’t work, Colter sat out all but two plays against Cal and was essentially playing in his first game against Syracuse. It may have worked to his advantage, as he had fresh legs and a fresh arm and was anxious to use them.
He started the game with four straight completions that ended in an eight yard touchdown pass to Treyvon Green.
Midway through the second quarter, he broke off for a 33-yard run, followed a few plays later by a 16 yard touchdown run, just barely reaching the ball across the goal line as he was physically lifted off the ground by a Syracuse defender. It was a risky move that had as good a chance of resulting in a fumble as it would a touchdown, but Colter decided to go for it.
“Throughout my career, I’ve seen guys do that in practice and fumble it and coaches just blow up and go berserk so Fitz kind of said if you do it, it better work,” Colter said. “It worked out, and I didn’t end up getting yelled at, so win-win.”
By getting back its most dynamic playmaker and taking down the Syracuse Orange, it was a win-win for Northwestern as well.