PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Bill Belton had lots on his mind by the time he settled into a chair inside the visiting media room at High Point Solutions Stadium Saturday night.
A week’s worth of stuff, and more, in fact.
While chatting with reporters, Belton touched on the impact PSU’s Garden State natives had in the win, his thoughts on the run game, and said he believes the Lions’ offense can only improve from here.
A transcript is below.
Do you think it was a little bit ironic that Brandon Bell gets that interception at the end of the game and you get the touchdown, as Jersey kids?
Bill Belton: I didn’t think about that, but it is. Good players ... we got a lot of good Jersey players on this team, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that feels that way about coming to play big-time football. Cause if that was the case, we would have stayed here, stayed with them. We came out here and got the victory, Brandon made some big plays; the defense played well. All the credit goes to them. They gave us a chance to actually come back and win the game.
What was going through your head as you hit the end zone?
BB: I was thankful for the opportunity. That could have been anybody. It could have been Zack, Akeel, DaeSean Hamilton; thankful for the opportunity that the coaches gave me. That’s all I can say about that.
Did everything go as planned? Walk me through the play.
BB: The line blew them off the ball, and they made it so clear that I could have walked into the end zone because the line did their job well. Like I said, all the credit goes to them.
No moral victory for those guys [Rutgers]?
BB: A loss is a loss. There’s no moral victories; they still have a loss, they’re 2-1, and I don’t know what you can take away from it.
Talk about New Jersey guys, and it's helped you guys in the recruiting ranks. Can Rutgers say listen, to the recruits that were here today, ‘we hung with these guys, and showed we belonged on the field with them and didn’t get blown out’?
BB: At the end of the day, a loss is a loss. There’s no moral victories in college football. That’s kind of like little league stuff. You can sell that to a kid, but as a man, a loss is a loss.
At the same time, a win is a win, and you’re 3-0. How good do you think this team can be?
BB: We just have to continue to work and get better each day. The defense is playing well. Offensively we have to get the ball rolling a bit and we have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot, and continue to sustain drives, and run the ball, and continue to protect Hackenberg and stuff like that. I think once that clicks, I think you’ll see a high-powered offense with a defense to match it. The defense is carrying the weight right now, so we got to, you know, make up time that we lost.
How would you compare [Saturday’s] touchdown run to Michigan?
BB: I don’t know. I was excited about it, but it’s on to UMass now.
What does it mean to you to score the winning touchdown with all that has been said this week about you, and about the team? What do you feel like right now?
BB: I feel a lot of things right. Can’t say what I feel, but they’ve been talking all week, and we didn’t do that. I think they approached it the wrong way. They made this game bigger than what it was, like the Super Bowl for them, and we just came out here and played our brand of football. The defense played well, we had some mistakes on offense, but we’ll clean that up.
Did you feel pressure at all, as a New Jersey guy, to come in here and win?
BB: Wasn’t no pressure; the pressure was on them. They came out and said what they said, and they made it that way. We just kept our mouth shut and went to work.
You said if you guys can just get a couple more things clicking you can be a high-powered offense. How close are you guys to that?
BB: I think we’re close. If you go back and watch the tape, some things are off, a block that was off or a route is off or a, as running backs, we’re no hitting the hole at the right time or stuff like that. But once we all mesh and click together, I think the sky is the limit for us.
In the last seven days you guys went from not being able to go to a bowl, to being able to go to a bowl, to being halfway eligible for a bowl. Can you put into words what the last seven days have been like for you and the team?
BB: It’s exciting, but you know, we’re not focused on that. We’re focused on getting better each day and enjoying our teammates, enjoying practice, enjoying the coaching staff, and going to work and getting better as a group.