BYU football: Fifth-year senior LB Jorgensen thankful he didn't call it quits
Provo • Georgia Tech players will dive at BYU linebacker Austen Jorgensen's knees and ankles all game Saturday, executing legal cut blocks to try to spring quarterback Vad Lee, running back David Sims and others for additional yardage.
Did the graduate of Mount Pleasant's North Sanpete High really return for his senior year for this?
"Absolutely," Jorgensen said Wednesday. "It has been a good experience so far. This is what I hoped for in my senior year."
Jorgensen, who became the starter at buck linebacker after Spencer Hadley was suspended five games and Tyler Beck strained a hamstring, actually called it a career last year after suffering a season-ending injury in the fourth game against Boise State.
But after talking it over with his wife, Kelsie, he decided to apply to the NCAA for a medical hardship, and he learned in the offseason that he would get the year back. So after three shoulder surgeries and two knee surgeries in four years, the all-everything athlete from rural Utah is back and making a contribution on a defense ranked 24th in the country.
"It was a tough choice to come back, but it has paid off so far," Jorgensen said. He's made 27 tackles, tied for fifth on the team.
Linebackers coach Paul Tidwell said Beck will play Monday, but Jorgensen will start again, just as he did in the 31-14 win over Utah State last week. Sophomore Manoa Pikula will back up Jorgensen at buck. Beck will back up tackling machine Uani Unga at mike, but he also can play buck if needed.
Jorgensen said the linebackers are looking forward to facing Georgia Tech's spread-option attack.
"In practices, it is like, 'Oh man, I don't want to do this,'" he said. "But once we get in the game, it is fun to play. It is the ultimate offense to play against."
Unga all over the place
The 16 tackles that Unga recorded against the Aggies was just one shy of the school record, set by current outside linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga.
How did he do it?
"By putting himself in the right spots," Tidwell said. "He's disciplined, and he works hard in practice. He studies film, and he's physical. He's a really physical player, and that equates to making a lot of plays."
Who cares about Homecoming?
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill apparently isn't a big fan of Homecoming games. It's Homecoming week at BYU, and the football team will mark the occasion by wearing the program's buzzwords Tradition, Spirit and Honor on the back of their jerseys.
"The Homecoming stuff and celebrations are something I don't really think about," Hill said. "It is fun to get the school spirit involved and all those things, but I approach every game the same. Homecoming isn't any different for me. My preparation is big, and I am going to do what I have done all year."
After rushing for just 14 yards against Utah State, Hill dropped to 15th in the country in rushing yards per game and now is averaging 115.8 per contest. ... Senior Cody Hoffman needs just six receptions to move past Dennis Pitta and into first place on the school's career receptions list. Pitta had 221 catches.
Georgia Tech at BYU, 5 p.m.
TV • ESPNU