After answering a few questions the way one would expect, Saquon Barkley broke character for a brief moment following Penn State’s 33-14 win over Pitt.
The junior running back said he felt slightly disrespected after last season’s loss to the Panthers at Heinz Field, mentioning their fans “acted like they won the national championship” the rest of the year.
“Obviously you’re supposed to celebrate when you win a game, but when they won last year I think it was a little too much,” Barkley said postgame. “I think there’s a point where you can take it to, and I think they took it too far.”
Barkley has seven touchdowns and 330 all-purpose yards in two career games against Pitt, so clearly he wasn’t willing to let the opportunity slip to make his mark on this storied series. Barkley’s 46-yard score early in the third quarter gave the Nittany Lions a 21-3 lead.
The Coplay, Pa., native said he and Trace McSorley are super comfortable executing that particular play, having run it countless times during 7-on-7 drills this summer.
Barkley burns the linebacker on single coverage for his first touchdown of the day. pic.twitter.com/Bk1y4deiOo
— Onward State (@OnwardState) September 9, 2017
“That’s a route I work on with Trace a lot. You believe that Trace is gonna put the ball on the money and he believed that I would make the catch and find a way to get in the end zone,” Barkley said.
But that was just the start of his terrific outing, as the 5-foot-11, 230-pounder ran right over three Panthers from 8 yards out to open the fourth quarter. Barkley’s opportunity to make a splash in the kicking game was thwarted by a pair of touchback, but the Heisman hype deservedly keeps rolling in with each new breathtaking moment.
“We believe that we have the capability of being the best offense in the country,” he said of Joe Moorhead’s attack.
While Pitt outgained the Nittany Lions in both passing and rushing yards, time of possession played a big part in that. Penn State ran 34 fewer plays than the Panthers, but managed to make them count, scoring on five of its 13 drives Saturday.
“It’s scary to think that we didn’t play our best…and we still got 30-some points,” Barkley said. “We’re a real firm believer that nobody can stop us but us.”
Barkley passed Ki-Jana Carter for ninth place (2,832) on the program’s all-time rushing yards list with 88 on the ground against Pitt. He’ll likely move ahead of Lydell Mitchell and Larry Johnson next Saturday under the lights versus Georgia State.
Evan Royster’s record of 3,932 is well within reach for Barkley, who performs even better when every single player on the opposing team is bent on bringing him down. A continually evolving threat in the receiving game, he tied Mike Gesicki with a team-high four grabs for 45 yards.
Barkley, a journalism major, gets plenty of experience in his field on a weekly basis — he just happens to be in front of the microphone not holding it.