Receivers Looking To Help Out

Mike Shanahan caught a career-high five passes for 85 yards in Pitt's opening win over Buffalo. Devin Street had a career-high six catches for 74 yards in the win over Maine. Still, both head coach Todd Graham and receivers coach Mike Norvell feel the receivers can help the offense get on track, despite starting off the season with career days.

Pitt's quarterback situation has been a hot topic around the football program. While receivers coach Mike Norvell has to be pleased with players like Mike Shanahan setting a career-high in week one, and Devin Street setting a career-high in week two, the position coach feels there's more that his guys can do to help get the offense going.

"Just executing," Norvell added. "We have to be able to get the ball out on time. There's so many good things you see on film. It's maybe one or two things—holding the ball for a second here, depth of a route there. It's part of the transition of putting in a new system. We have to get better at executing it."

All in all, Norvell feels the offense isn't all that far off from gelling, but he almost makes it sounds like the receivers are the missing ingredient from the offense becoming the productive system that it was expected to be. He's right in the sense that all positions—quarterbacks, running backs, linemen and receivers—all have to click. He agrees the receivers can do more to help make that happen.

"They need to run the offense," Norvell said of the receivers. "If we ask for a 15-yard comeback, we need to make sure we're getting 15 yards. There's inside adjustments and route conversions that we have to do better job converting and just having everybody on the same page."

In the early part of practice this week, Norvell does get a sense that gelling is close to being there.

"There's a whole lot of positives," Norvell added. "We feel like we're right on the brink of being able to get that thing rolling. That's the plan of it this week."

Both Graham and Norvell also feel that freshmen receivers—something Graham has seen in previous coaching stops—can help along the way as well. One receiver Graham is really pushing to get involved is Darius Patton.

"We have some young guys we need to get on the field," Graham said. "I'm watching Darius Patton run around the field, and I say, ‘Son, you've got to learn the plays to be able to get on the field.' He's special. He can do some things with his speed.

"They're getting better each day," Norvell said of the freshmen. "Like today, we had guys out there, and they're getting more and more reps. They're feeling more and more comfortable. That's just something that's part of that process. Being a freshman and coming in and playing in this system; it takes time. We've been fortunate in this offense. Every year, we've had a true freshman play. We're having true freshmen play this year. I challenge these guys each day. They just have to be able to go in there and execute; do their job."


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