Through two weeks of camp, Northwestern’s starting running back is Jacob Schmidt, not Mike Trumpy, who became the starter last season. Pat Fitzgerald is frustrated with how Trumpy and sophomore running back Adonis Smith have performed thus far. The message has been delivered.
“My size 12 is where the sun doesn’t shine on those guys so I hope they step up,” Pat Fitzgerald said of Northwestern’s two leading running backs from 2010.
The message was made loud and clear. During Saturday’s scrimmage, Jacob Schmidt was on the sidelines in sweatpants while Trumpy and Smith were in uniform. In a way, this was symbolic.
Trumpy averaged 4.6 yards per carry in 11 games last season and became the full-time starter. This season, he has to earn that role back after a slow start to camp.
“I think it’s just a wake-up call,” said Trumpy of the demotion. “(Running backs coach Matt MacPherson) brought to us that he doesn’t think we’re as focused as we should be and consistent as we should be. I really have taken that to heart and really trying to improve.”
At the beginning of camp, Trumpy was penciled in as the starter, but missed nearly a week with a hamstring issue. It was when he returned that problems began. Soon enough, Trumpy was working with the second-team offense.
“I came back and was a little rusty and wasn’t as focused as I should be,” Trumpy said. “The past few days, I’ve been working on that and focusing on that. I’ve improve the past few days, I just got to continue to get better.”
The difference between being Northwestern’s starter and a backup: consistency. Fitzgerald says that both Trumpy and Smith aren’t far off from the starting job, but need to make a few changes.
“We’re looking for consistency and for the first (ten) practices, Jacob has been consistent—period,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s not anything more than that, it’s about showing up with you lunch pail everyday and executing everything.”
While the starter for week one has not been decided, Jacob Schmidt appears to be on the fast-track for that job. Trumpy is hoping hard work and consistency can propel him back to the top of the depth chart.
“I need to continue to step it up and work hard,” said Trumpy. “It doesn’t really matter whether you’re the first-string or fifth-string, you work as hard as you can, no matter what. You can’t be complacent and you have to continue to get better.”