Against Maine, very few players put forth an above-average effort. Thankfully for Northwestern, Trumpy reminded fans of his worth. The reliable backup rebounded from his mediocre performance against Western Michigan. Despite being placed in some odd packages–like the read option–Trumpy gained 94 yards and added a late-game touchdown. He'll be relied upon in short yardage situations when Ohio State arrives in Evanston. NU has even tried to add creativity in third-and-short sets so as to avoid tipping the defense. (More on that part later.)
Jones made mistakes on Saturday, but he continues to be the highest-volume receiver for NU. He caught six of the team's 10 completions, and excelled despite the awful passing output. In games like the one against Syracuse, when the quarterbacks play well, he's especially valuable. Finally maximizing his versatility and speed, Jones might even qualify as a sort of "breakout" player. If he can avoid the occasional sloppy play, he might be destined for All-Big Ten accolades.
Proby delivered at the perfect moment for senior leadership. With his team reeling late in the first half, Proby returned an interception for a touchdown. He made the necessary play, and without, NU may have ended up staring at a completely different outcome. He's been steady so far in 2013, leading a still-impressive linebacking corps that needs to be on point against Ohio State.
He did make an inexcusable fumble. That happens to freshmen. But here's the thing: Long might already be one of the fiercest competitors for NU. Though he'll face a difficult battle to earn the feature back role in future season, Long will find his role. After nearly blocking a Maine punt, he pounded his chest on the sidelines, pumping up the crowd. He loves the game and the opportunity; burning his redshirt appears to make perfect sense.
To me, the discussion of "How bad was the Maine game?" begins here. Frankly, Colter looked lost in the pocket against an FCS opponent. He overthrew passes, chucked up an interception and generally struggled outside of the read option. The offensive line took a step back, but Colter's old inconsistency returned on Saturday. Mick McCall should feed Colter some confidence early in the OSU matchup, setting up the short-passing game before challenging the opponent's secondary.
I'd expect some changes in the secondary, or even a time-share with Matt Harris. On paper, Dwight White might seem like the best option (given everyone else's inexperience), but it's no long-term fix. The redshirt freshman was not ready for this workload. He needed that dime package experience to avoid inconsistency and improve. Now, thrown into the fire, he keeps getting burned. This time, Maine wideout Derrick Johnson beat him on a sloppy post corner for 59 yards—leading to a Maine touchdown. He can improve. Ohio State, though, will certainly expose him on Oct. 5.
He's been good, not great. I'm not sure that his knock on Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski was dirty. It still seemed far too close—a poor mental error regardless of circumstance. In spring, we watched Henry collect a highlight reel of big-time hits and plays. Fans should expect even more from Henry and Ibraheim Campbell, safeties who can aid the struggling corners and force game-changing turnovers.