Fullback Burton Talks Running Game

Michael Burton

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers junior fullback Michael Burton spoke with ScarletReport.com Monday about the state of the running game and using time during the bye week wisely.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers has had two 100-yard rushers and a third with 96 yards this year with Michael Burton being the constant lead blocker at fullback.

Returning from injury after missing nine games in 2013, Burton provided key blocks and stability in a backfield that has seen big numbers from Paul James, Savon Huggins and Justin Goodwin in feature roles.

Missing James for the third straight game, Huggins and Goodwin will be co-starters and key players in establish a pace for the offense.

"We need to establish the run against Houston," Burton said. "That's one of the core values of our program. Run the ball. Stop the run. That all starts with the offensive line and myself. It starts with the running backs. It's going to be very important to get the ball rolling."

Behind Burton and the offensive line, Rutgers received a 96-yard performance from Huggins, a 192-yard showing from James and a 149-yard game from Goodwin.

"I think we've been pretty consistent," Burton said. "I definitely think we can be better once we fix our communication. We have to communicate better, work on our fundamentals. Overall, I think we have done a good job and helped win some games."

James, the program's leading rusher, is out for Houston but could return the following week for Temple, said coach Kyle Flood.

James missed games against SMU and Louisville after a lower-leg injury suffered in the fourth quarter of a victory over Arkansas.

"Whenever he comes back, I'll definitely be excited," Burton said. "He's a very important part of our offense and our team. He's a leader of this team. I'll be very excited to see P.J. come back, but we're confident in what we have right now as well."

Burton felt fine going into a long bye week, but said the time away from live action was critical for the team as a whole. Rutgers will go 18 days between games and four weeks between home games, which has him eager to take the field Saturday for Homecoming against Houston.

"I don't think it's too long," Burton said on the break. "Obviously I can't wait to get back out there and play a game. But I think it's a great opportunity for us to heal up as a team. It gave us a chance to work on our fundamentals and our technique. We needed it. We have our legs back underneath us."

Burton, like most of the team, spent Friday of the bye week with an eye on the UCF upset over Louisville. He said he understands what it means for Rutgers, but is not worried about it.

"I love football, so I loved watching two of the best teams in our conference, but that's it," he said. "We'll eventually play UCF, but right now I'm really just focused on Houston and being 1-0 against them. No matter what happens with other teams in our conference, we can't worry about that. We have to focus on Houston."

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