Northwestern running back Mike Trumpy’s status for the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas on Saturday is still going to be a game-time decision, Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald said Monday after the team’s final practice in Evanston. The Wildcats were due to fly out of O’Hare for Dallas late Monday afternoon.
Trumpy, a redshirt freshman, fractured his right wrist against Illinois on Nov. 20 at Wrigley Field. He sat out the Wisconsin game on Nov. 27 and has had a limited role in practice. At the time of his injury, Trumpy was the team’s leading rusher with 530 yards and four touchdowns.
If Trumpy doesn’t play, Fitzgerald can rely on running backs Jacob Schmidt — who hasn’t seen action since the Michigan State game Oct. 23 when he injured his ankle — and fifth-year senior Stephen Simmons. Freshman Adonis Smith also should figure into the mix.
“[Trumpy will] be a game-time decision, and I’ll figure out exactly where he’s going to go from there,” Fitzgerald said.
“If he can’t go, the other guys I think have played well. Jacob brings a [physical style of play] with him that will be nice to have, and for Stephen as a senior it will be a great opportunity. I thought him and Adonis played well at Wisconsin, and I thought we ran it well there.”
Not his style
Redshirt freshman quarterback Evan Watkins said he isn’t thinking too far ahead if Trumpy can’t play and knows he has backfield options in Smith, Simmons and Schmidt. But don’t ask Watkins to scramble like junior quarterback Dan Persa, who ran for 519 yards before he ruptured his Achilles tendon last month.
“I feel comfortable with it, but I’m not as fast as [Persa],” the 6-6 Watkins said.
“If I have to run and make a play, I’ll do that, but I’m not going to be running around and running by guys because it’s not my style.”
Texas Tech, the Wildcats’ opponent in the TicketCity Bowl, will have a new defensive coordinator in Sam McElroy. The Red Raiders’ defensive line coach replaces James Willis, who left the program Sunday and is expected to join Will Muschamp’s staff at Florida. But Fitzgerald sees this not as a positive for the Wildcats, but an advantage for Texas Tech.
“The guy we’ve scouted and broken down is no longer there, and they’re not going to change much in a week,” Fitzgerald said. “I think who they’ll be and what they’ll do is similar to what they’ve been.”
McNaul a go
Fitzgerald also confirmed that junior linebacker Bryce McNaul should play Saturday. McNaul injured his left knee at Wisconsin and has practiced, but he didn’t do so Monday.