The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Orton more than just a good passer

Pat Leonard | Monday, October 4, 2004

Purdue had the ball on the Notre Dame 3-yard line and the Irish defense forced two incomplete passes. Purdue coach Joe Tiller surprised no one by lining up five wide receivers on third down.But then Boilermaker quarterback Kyle Orton stepped up out of the shotgun. He pointed to his right. The far right wide receiver ran in motion towards Orton. The quarterback pointed wide receiver Taylor Stubblefield to the sideline, hiked the ball and launched a perfect 97-yard touchdown pass to the isolated Stubblefield.”That [play] came from the sideline. Well, I think that one did. I don’t know,” Tiller said after the game. “I can ask [Orton], but I think that was a call from the sidelines.”Reporters asked Orton, Stubblefield and Purdue’s offensive coordinator Jim Chaney. It turned out that Orton had called an audible.”He has complete control command of their system,” Irish coach Tyrone Willingham said. “He made some pretty big plays today.”The Heisman Trophy candidate beat Notre Dame with 385 yards passing and four touchdowns, all the while having more control of the offense than even his own coach could recognize.”This guy’s getting so hard for me to figure out,” Tiller said. “What he’s starting to do now which I really like … is going up there and doing a lot of dummy audibles, so the defense has to play him safe.”Orton became a coach on the field Saturday. Tiller made it obvious he had no problem with Orton having complete control of the offense.”Our quarterback continues to do a great job … at the line of scrimmage,” Tiller said. “He is a heck of talent, and our team is doing a great job of following his lead.”Orton’s teammates have followed their quarterback to a 4-0 start after defeating Syracuse, Ball State, Illinois and Notre Dame.Orton’s numbers speak for themselves.He is responsible for an average of 28.5 points per game, ranking first in the NCAA and is second in the nation averaging 355.25 yards of total offense. Orton’s passing efficiency rating of 194.11 is now first in the country. And when the clock ran out to a 41-16 Purdue win over Notre Dame, Orton had a season total of 17 touchdowns and zero interceptions.”He was extremely accurate,” Willingham said. “He hadn’t thrown an interception coming in to the ballgame, and if I’m correct he didn’t throw one in this ball game. And that’s not by accident.Irish safety Tom Zbikowski saw the 97-yard touchdown play develop.”It was good coverage,” Zbikowski said. “I don’t think he could have placed the ball anywhere else.”Orton nearly overtook former USC quarterback Carson Palmer [425] for most passing yards against a Notre Dame team. But his performance was no less dominant.”There’s a reason why they say he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country,” Zbikowski said.Orton gave one reason with his point to Stubblefield. And as the receiver sprinted on his way to giving Purdue a 24-point lead, the entire crowd at Notre Dame Stadium knew Orton – just as he does with Purdue’s success – had everything to do with it.