Jay Norvell: 'The best receivers I've ever had could play defense'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Sunday January 15, 2017


As Jay Norvell takes over Nevada, he’s putting an emphasis on versatility for wide receivers.

Norvell’s background comes with receivers, and he’s going to run an Air Raid offense with offensive coordinator Matt Mumme. What Norvell wants from receivers he sees in recruiting and sees on the Nevada roster are ones who can do more.

“In looking for skill players, it’s really important for us, we want versatility,” Norvell said recently. “We want guys that cam do a lot of things. We want receivers, corners and secondary players that can return punts, return kicks and give us another offensive weapon.

The best receivers I’ve ever had could play defense. We love that versatility. I had guys like Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills, Jalen Saunders, Sterling Shepard, those guys could all play corner as well as wide receiver. When you have that versatility, your special teams automatically get better. We’re trying to improve the roster as much as we can in the next three weeks, and we’re working diligently to do that.”

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As for that Air Raid offense, it’s what Norvell always wanted to do as a head coach. He saw concepts within Oklahoma’s offense dating back to Mike Leach when Norvell arrived on staff. Few know it like Mumme, whose father, Hal Mumme, essentially invented the style.

Nevada was the home of the Pistol formation under Chris Ault, and Matt Mumme picked that up from Ault. Mummy was the head coach at LaGrange (GA) but stepped down to join Norvell. The Wolf Pack were No. 91 in scoring offense in 2016 at 25.4 points per game, and went 5-7. It'a a style of offense that Norvell will pitch to those receivers.

“I had my eyes on Matt Mumme from the very start,” Norvell said. “Matt has extensive experience in the Air Raid offense. His dad basically invented it. He’s spent his whole life around the offense. For my personal background, I spent eight years at Oklahoma, and when I was Oklahoma — I came in in 2008, but the original coordinator Bob Stoops hired was Mike Leach, and he played against Hal Mumme with Kentucky and they just gave him fits when he was the defensive coordinator at Florida.

“When he got the Oklahoma job, he hired Mike Leach and put in the Air Raid. … The past concepts always stayed at Oklahoma, and they always stayed. I was familiar with those pass concepts. When I got the opportunity to be a head coach, I wanted to go full-circle and go back to the basics of the Air Raid. That’s what Matt brings us.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.