SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Penn State's three-headed senior receiving monster of Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood can do it all.
Well, just about.
For the second straight week, one of the receivers was given an opportunity to throw a pass during a tricky reverse formation.
Saturday, in a 55-13 blowout of feeble Syracuse, it was Jordan Norwood, and his execution was no better than Williams' incompletion of an option pass against Oregon State.
Rolling left, the right-handed Norwood bounced a pass well short of an open Butler.
They shared a good laugh about it on the sidelines, fitting as the 3-0 Nittany Lions enjoyed their third straight laugher.
All-time receiving chart
Bobby Engram '91-951673,20631
*Includes five rushing and three returns
''It was a bad pass,'' Norwood said afterward. ''We usually run it the other way where you're rolling out to your right and don't have to throw across the body.''
The high humidity, and the ultimate outcome, exonerated Norwood.
''It was so moist that the ball just slipped out of his hands,'' Williams said.
Norwood's incompletion was about the only thing that went wrong in the Penn State passing game Saturday as Butler and Norwood combined to catch 12 passes for 223 yards and four touchdowns.
Williams caught just two, but took it in stride.
''There's no competition among us,'' he said. ''We're just trying to win games.''
So far, Coastal Carolina, Oregon State and Syracuse have offered no resistance. Nor has any opponent been able to take away the Lions' outside weapons.
Norwood got it started with a 55-yard catch-and-run touchdown to open the scoring.
''Today it only took one play from Jordan,'' Butler said. ''He's been on fire the first couple games, and as soon as you pay attention to him, I can get some production and Derrick, too.''
The veterans have helped acclimate quarterbacks Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin. Both played well again Saturday, albeit against a defenseless Syracuse program that is nothing short of an embarrassment.
''They know so much about the game, and they tell you what they see on the field,'' Devlin said. ''That's really helped.''
Saturday's rout was so decisive that Butler didn't play in the second half. He said it was nice to watch underclassmen Chaz Powell, Derek Moye and James McDonald get a chance.
''They keep us humble,'' Powell said.
Butler, Norwood and Williams all rank in Penn State's top five in career receptions and several other categories. Bobby Engram is the all-time leader with 167 catches, but the Lions' senior troika is closing fast.
Butler has 142, Norwood 134 and Williams 123.
Interestingly, Williams was by far the most heralded recruit of the three. He came in as the most highly-touted player in the country in 2005, arriving to help resuscitate the Nittany Lions' slumbering operation.
At the time, he said he only planned to stay three seasons, at which time he'd bolt to the NFL. Based on those goals, he still has some work to do.
Butler and Norwood, meanwhile, have totally exceeded expectations. Butler came to Penn State as an invited walk-on and spent a year on defense before injecting speed and separation to a receiving corps in 2006 that needed it.
Norwood was receiving almost no recruiting interest, but he caught Joe Paterno's eye with his savvy and competitiveness as a basketball player for State College High School.
He's become the best receiver Penn State has had over the middle in a long time, creating room for himself and his mates.
That seems more important than the record book.
''I don't even follow it unless I see it in the paper,'' Butler said. ''Our main focus is to win games. When it's all said and done and hopefully we win the national championship, then maybe we can look back and maybe look at the records.''
Statistics can be deceiving. There are more games today (12 vs. 11 and even 10-game schedules) plus bowl games are now counted, another departure from the past.
Butler, though, knows the group is in exclusive company.
''Every time I see film, I see how many great catches Bobby [Engram] made,'' he said. ''Same with O.J. [McDuffie] and Kenny Jackson and all the guys that came before us. Just to be in the same sentence as them is a blessing.''
And one this year's Penn State offense is more than willing to count.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.