Provo • Brigham Young University and the University of Utah may be fierce football rivals, but that doesn’t mean the players wish ill upon the guys on the other sideline.
News that Utah junior quarterback Jordan Wynn was calling it quits due to an accumulation of injuries and surgeries, hit BYU’s players hard Monday afternoon, and several expressed sadness and dismay that the Californian who carved them up pretty good in last year’s 54-10 loss is done playing.
“Yeah, he goes to our rival [school], but that’s just terrible,” said BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree. “You don’t want to hear that about anybody. Like I said, it is all a reminder that we are just one play away, one hit away from being done. So I feel for him. It is terrible — probably the worst thing about college football is injuries and people having to end their careers early. So we feel for him and wish him well and hope he gets better.”
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall did not learn about Wynn’s situation until he was told about it after practice by a BYU football spokesperson. He said the Cougars really had not started to prepare for a certain QB yet.
“So we will plan for the next quarterback [Jon Hays] ... then I think the freshman [Travis Wilson] will play some, which he is already doing in different formations and personnel groups,” Mendenhall said. “So I think that’s the direction we will take.”
Mendenhall said the change “doesn’t alter our preparation that much” because there is little variance between the plays the Utes run when Wynn is in there, as opposed to Hays. But he said he has no doubt that Hays is capable of leading the Utes to many victories.
“He has good experience and he has led them to wins. So I don’t think it will be some giant transition for them,” Mendenhall said.
State of the rivalry
What’s the state of the Utah-BYU rivalry now that the foes will play in September for the second straight year?
“I don’t really know how to describe it,” Mendenhall said Monday. “It is certainly still a rivalry, but there are different conferences now, and the game is played earlier in the year. I still think the game matters, but there is a different feel to it. I can’t really describe the difference.”
Mendenhall asked for both sides to tone down the hateful rivalry rhetoric a few years ago, and he said “so far [this year] is a step in the right direction, and I thought last year was closer” to being more respectful. He acknowledged the nature of last year’s game, “as it wasn’t as competitive,” probably had something to do with that.
No. 25 is no big deal
Mendenhall said BYU debuting at No. 25 in The Associated Press Top 25 Poll on Sunday was not discussed in a team setting Monday and that he doesn’t plan to make a big deal about it this week.
As he has said before, Mendenhall thinks the rankings should not come out until after the seventh week.
“And then everyone would have an idea of who’s good and who’s not good,” he said. “The rest of it, until then, I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t hold much weight.”
Ogletree said the ranking “doesn’t mean anything,” but acknowledged the younger BYU players might find it exciting because they haven’t experienced it before.
The Cougars did not suffer any significant injuries in their 45-13 win over Weber State. Mendenhall said receiver Ross Apo, who missed the game after tweaking his hamstring, “looked pretty good today.”
He said quarterback Riley Nelson’s back “is still sore, but I would expect him to play Saturday, though.”
He said Nelson’s reps in practice will build as the week goes along.
Riley Stephenson is the FBS Independent Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time after averaging 53.2 yards on his five punts. He also made a 33-yard field goal and all six of his PAT tries. ... Utah’s release on the game says both teams’ bands will play together at halftime, and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will attend the game.
BYU at Utah
P Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV • ESPN2