Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Took a break from the Michigan madness this morning to chat with Purdue wide receiver Greg Orton. Purdue has produced stud wideouts during the Joe Tiller era, but in the coach's final season there are questions with the passing game. Gone are Dorien Bryant, who led the league in receptions in each of his final three seasons, and matchup headache Dustin Keller. Purdue also loses Jake Standeford and Selwyn Lymon. Orton, the team's most experienced wideout, slides into the top spot and will lead a mostly unproven group into 2008. Here's some of what he had to say:
There's a lot of talk about what you guys lost at the wide receiver position. As a group, where's your confidence level heading into this season?
Greg Orton: I feel pretty confident. We're just working as hard as we've ever worked. Just getting a lot of chemistry with (quarterback) Curtis (Painter). We've got a lot of new guys, but the new guys are definitely hungry. Everybody just wants to learn. It's more of a band of brothers, as we call ourselves.
Do you draw confidence from how successful Purdue has been at wide receiver, or is it more about creating a legacy with your own group?
GO: It's a bit of both. The offense is catered to where, statistically, the wide receivers are going to have a lot of catches and yards, but every team is different. We definitely have a new group, and we need to write a new chapter and try to create history among ourselves.
You guys added two junior college wideouts, Aaron Valentin and Arsenio Curry. How have those guys adjusted so far?
GO: They're definitely coming in hungry. They've got a lot of talent and run good routes, catch the ball well.
Do you look at yourself as the No. 1 guy coming into the fall? Is that a challenge?
GO: Most definitely. I just want to lead. I've been there before and everything. A lot of them look to me for advice and everything.
How has that been different for you?
GO: I'm not really a big talker. If people are seeing me working hard and everything, it kind of breeds off on them. That's just the guy I've always been. All I can do is work hard. Hopefully, people notice.
Who did you look to for leadership when you were younger?
GO: Definitely Dorien Bryant. He's been there before, has a lot of experience, a lot of catches and everything. He was a great route runner. He was really smart. A lot of people didn't notice that about him. He knew how to get in between different coverages and set different things up. I learned different ways to run routes from him. You don't have to always run it the same way. You can set it up differently. That really expanded my mind on that.
Is it easier to learn that from another receiver instead of a coach?
GO: Yeah. He's just out there being creative, just trying different things. That made me feel like I don't have to always be a robot. I can try to be creative and really outthink the defender. When I first came in, it was just, 'Do this, run it this way.' As I progressed and learned from him, you can run it different ways to try to keep the defender always thinking.
How do you outthink a defender?
GO: Just trying to get into his mind and see what he's trying to perceive. If he's trying to show Cover 2 and he's playing Cover 4, different things like that. How he plays man, if he's a real physical guy with his hands or a not physical guy. There's different press and jam techniques and Dorien definitely taught me ways to look for them, signaling by their feet or anything. It definitely made me a smarter playe.
What is it going to take for you guys to jump to that next level in the Big Ten, a place where a lot of people don't put your team?
GO: To show up in big games. That's the key. We've got to win big games on the schedule. We can't be close with them, hanging in there and then at the end, lose, or get blown out. We have to have the mentality to go in there and win, just not be afraid, go out there and played to the best of our ability.
What has been missing in those games?
GO: Just not being consistent in scoring and not being consistent on third downs. We have to change that.
Which big game means the most to you? As a Dayton guy, I'll guess it's Ohio State.
GO: All of them are definitely important, but Ohio State is a hometown game. It's at Ohio State. I've got a lot of friends on Ohio State. So when it comes, it comes. But the first game we play is a big game, so we just take it from there.
I'm supposed to talk with your high school teammate, Marcus Freeman, later today. You got a message for him?
GO: (laughs) I talk enough junk on his phone anyway. I'm sure he gets tired of me. I really can't say anything because they've been in the national championship twice, so he pretty much shuts me up there.
I know you don't deal with Coach (Danny) Hope as a position coach, but with him becoming the head guy next year, what has stood out so far?
GO: He's cracking down academically, making us do some things in the summer that's helping us. We're working on our classes every day, meeting with a tutor more.
I read that you're a big movie guy. Seen anything good this summer?
GO: I've seen everything. The last two good movies I've seen were 'Hancock' and 'Wanted.' 'Wanted' was just a true guy flick, had the guns and everything. And 'Hancock' had good twists and a good ending.