“Losing Mike, it’s tough for him individually,” Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “You never like to see anybody get injured. It was a non-contact, he just stuck his foot in the ground and tried to change direction.”
On the season, Trumpy had 35 carries for 182 yards – a 5.2-yard average – and one touchdown. Trumpy also missed the end of last season with a broken wrist.
“It’s tough. Injuries are part of the game, but when you lose a guy as special as Mike is, that hurts both our team, and obviously hurts him to be on the sideline,” senior back Jacob Schmidt said. “As a group, we’ve got to pick up the flag. We’ve got to embrace our role and just play that much better.”
The injury is a blow to the running game, but Northwestern may be able to handle it better than in past years. This season, NU has it’s deepest set of running backs in recent memory.
In addition to Trumpy, Schmidt, freshman Treyvon Green, and sophomore Adonis Smith have all rushed for over 100 yards and at least one touchdown this season. Schmidt, Green and Smith all average just above or below four yards per carry.
“We’re going to have to have the young guys, Treyvon and Adonis, step up and really fill that void that we’re going to have,” Schmidt said. “Do I think we can do it? Yeah, I know we can. But losing Mike definitely hurts.”
Schmidt and Green are listed on the two-deep depth chart this week, and both bring a different dynamic to the running game. Schmidt brings experience, intelligence, and a deep knowledge of the NU system. Green has less experience, but boasts an incredible talent that will likely continue to develop over time.
“He’s a special runner, he’s a special athlete,” Schmidt said of Green. “He’s dynamic with the football, he’s got really good vision. But at the same time he’s young, and I think we saw that on Saturday a couple times.”
Fitzgerald said he thought Northwestern remained efficient running the football against Illinois even after Trumpy’s departure. Green was the leading rusher with 17 carries for 67 yards and Schmidt scored the late go-ahead touchdown.
Despite that, however, both backs will likely see an increased amount of carries per game. How they handle will determine the success of NU’s rushing attack, and could determine whether Northwestern keeps its newfound balanced offensive attack, or turns to Dan Persa and the passing game to pick up the slack.