Running backs fight to establish rotation

Mike Trumpy talks about the running back mentality in this Purple Wildcats Premium update.

No one really worries about the running backs.

There's Venric Mark, who ran for 1,366 yards last season.

There's a young and talented stable including Malin Jones and Stephen Buckley—two guys who could see enhanced roles.

Finally, there's Mike Trumpy, the backbone. Heading into his redshirt senior season, Trumpy averages 4.7 yards per carry. He iced the Boston College victory last season, gaining 87 yards in the fourth quarter alone.

But in summer, you realize that everything really does take practice. The offense was something of a disaster in full pads on Friday, struggling to do anything aside from completing short passes. Now in his fifth season on the sidelines, Trumpy knows the process all too well.

"What we do in meetings is watch the film from practice and learn from those mistakes," Trumpy said. "We meet for six hours a day, probably even more, so we spend a lot of time trying to improve and trying to learn."

Those six hours of meetings serve another purpose. When the running backs meet with Matt MacPherson, they realize their potential. That extends past Venric, given that he took less than 60 percent of carries last year (per PW stats expert Steven Goldstein).

That depth forces the veteran Trumpy to maintain high levels of performance. In early practices, he demonstrated his renewed burst and improved receiving skills. Jones, Buckley and Treyvon Green would be thrilled to approach him on the depth chart, so Trumpy tries to keep them at arm's length.

"There are a lot of competitive attitudes in the room, so we're competing in every drill," he said.

Mark traditionally beats players with his speed and elusiveness. Trumpy–at 6'1, 210–can bowl over defenders and embrace contact. For lack of a better term, it provides that "one-two punch."

"It's certainly a change of pace," Trumpy said of the combination. "… It helps that we have two different kinds of styles."

Then you can add even more styles from the youth, guys who will need to produce when both Mark and Trumpy graduate. For now, they're focused on Cal, knowing as always that it takes more than one running back to win football games.


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