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Northwestern's Niko Mafuli drops weight, Persa to backs: step up

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Northwestern held its annual media day Thursday and here are a couple bits: 

Defensive lineman Niko Mafuli has lost weight. When the Wildcats returned from the TicketCity Bowl in January, Mafuli went on a weight loss regimen and went from 338 pounds to about 306. He says he's in the best shape of his life.

Running back Mike Trumpy knows he and backfield mates Adonis Smith, Tyris Jones and Jacob Schmidt, who has recovered from an ankle injury suffered against Michigan State last season, have to protect the ball and take the stress off of quarterback Dan Persa. Trumpy also reports that his right wrist is fully healed.

"I kept doing rehab [on the wrist] during the spring, but its fully healed," Trumpy said. "I think I have a lot more confidence with the offense and that continued into the summer. Dan's an unbelievable athlete and we are going to try and keep the ball in his hands, but if we can take pressure off of him, that would be great."

Persa agrees and said he has told the backs to work on running the ball more efficiently. Persa was the team's second leading rusher last season with over 500 yards.

"Our running game needs to take a step up and I've been impressed with both the O-line and the running backs," Persa said. "I think it's just being more physical and I think that was from last year. Work more as a unit and not put the blame on other people. They took ownership of that and got a chip on their shoulder because people asked, 'Why don't you run the ball?'

"Going through last year I took a big beating at the end of the year. I told [the running backs] many times I don't want to rush for 500 yards, you can have those yards. I don't want to be taking those hits. I take enough of those in the pocket."

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This page contains a single entry by Tina Akouris published on August 11, 2011 3:05 PM.

Welsh-Ryan floor decision on hold was the previous entry in this blog.

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