James’ injury history dates back to high school where he missed his senior season, and this is the latest in a line of leg problems.
“Paul is not going to be an easy guy to replace,” Flood said. “He’s a very good football player, but we’ve got good players in that room. It’s one of the deeper rooms on our football team, and now Justin Goodwin, Desmon Peoples and our two freshmen are going to have opportunities to carry the ball.”
Done for the season, James was on pace for an All-Big Ten season with 483 total yards and seven touchdowns through four games.
“P.J. is a competitor,” Flood said. “P.J. will be back. Any player in this position is always disappointed initially. You work all year for 12 days and when you have some of them taken away from you because of injury, it’s always disappointing. … He’ll be back. He’ll be back 100 percent.”
What does that mean?
Backups Peoples and Goodwin both impressed against Navy behind a good run-blocking effort. Peoples went for a career-high 82 rushing yards against Navy. The sophomore also represents the best pass protection option behind James.
Sophomore Justin Goodwin, in his 2014 debut at running back, broke 100 yards yet again with a team-best 104 and a touchdown in the victory. The starter will be determined based on this week’s practice, but both will play a lot.
“Now we go forward,” Flood said. “This is something that every team around the country is dealing with. You don’t know when you’re going to have deal with it. You don’t know for how many weeks you’re going to have to deal with it, but you have to have depth. There’s going to be attrition in every football season.”
Flood played true freshmen Josh Hicks and Robert Martin already this season to get them ready for a situation like this. Hicks has seen more chances based on his special teams abilities, but either one could emerge as the third running back for Tulane.
“This week will probably decide that,” Flood said. “I don’t know if either one of them has had enough opportunities to get ahead of the other. I’m pleased with what they’ve done in their limited opportunities. They’ve both helped us on special teams and now they may get a chance to carry the ball a little bit more.”