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Sacramento State receivers: A triple threat
When Sacramento State quarterback Jeff Fleming goes back to pass today, there is a good chance he will throw to Chase Deadder, Morris Norrise or Brandyn Reed.
But which one? That is for Southern Utah to figure out.
The Hornets (1-0), ranked No. 12 in the Sports Network Football Championship Subdivision poll, visit the Thunderbirds (0-1) in Cedar City, Utah, for a 12:05 p.m. kickoff.
Southern Utah, the defending Great West Conference champion, is coming off a 29-28 loss to South Dakota State.
Fleming completed 22 passes for 257 yards in last weekend’s 29-28 overtime thriller over host Oregon State. Of those completions, 18 went to Deadder, Norrise and Reed. They had six each.
While Fleming was honored as the Big Sky Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week, he credited the wide receiving trio who he said make his job fun. Fleming also was selected as the FCS Offensive Player of the Week, which has more impact than the conference selection.
“We have some great targets out there,” Fleming said. “It’s awesome having weapons like that out there, guys you can have trust in.
“All of them are bigger targets, so it helps out a lot – good speed, good route-running ability. It just helps quarterbacks out a lot just to know that if one guy’s not there, you just know somebody else is going to be there for you.”
Deadder led the Hornets last season with 37 catches, 788 receiving yards and a 21.3 yards-per-catch average. He had 61 receiving yards with two touchdowns against Oregon State.
The 6-foot-5 senior said he was out of shape last season as he was still healing from a broken collarbone that kept him out of the 2009 campaign. He said this offseason he was able to get back into the weight room and put on more muscle to get his playing weight back up to 220 pounds. He said he weighed 200 last year.
Though he is the team’s leading returning wide receiver, Deadder is not being relied upon as the primary threat to catch passes. He said opponents must keep an eye on the entire receiving corps.
“It’s not just one receiver,” Deadder said. “They’ll try to double-team one receiver, and that leaves two other guys open. It opens up everything for us.”
That includes Reed, the hero of last week’s win. His receptions totaled 85 yards with two touchdowns, including the one that set up the winning two-point conversion – which he also caught.
Reed, also a senior, played in just two games last season because of an ankle injury and was granted redshirt status. Like Deadder, Reed is a tall target at 6-3.
Rounding out the versatile trio is Norrise, who was a pleasant surprise for the Hornets a year ago as a freshman. He led the team with eight touchdown catches and was second with 35 receptions.
Norrise did not score against Oregon State, but he threw his second touchdown pass as a Hornet. Midway through the third quarter, on a designed trick play, Norrise caught a lateral from Fleming and tossed a 39-yarder to Reed to put Sac State up 21-6.
Norrise also threw a touchdown pass last season against Idaho State.
Fleming job’s as the starting quarterback is safe. Norrise is a better receiver than passer, but his throwing ability made the coaching staff select him for the trick play.
Fleming said the team joked last year that all Norrise did was catch long touchdown passes.
Norrise laughed off that reputation, saying, “I’ve grown up a lot since then. I’ve learned how to block and things like that.”
Norrise said he has worked hard to be more consistent this season and is hungry to improve.
“I can’t be satisfied with what I’m doing now,” he said. “I’ve got to be willing to improve all the time. Even though I say my blocking has gotten better, it’s still not as good as it can be.”
Note – Hornets running back Curtis Shaw will not play today. He hurt his left knee against Oregon State.
By Dave Carpenter, The Sacramento Bee