Utah QB Jordan Wynn developing winning attitude
He was the freshman who ignited Utah's offense, became the Poinsettia Bowl MVP and drew comparisons to former Utah great Alex Smith.
Great things were said about Jordan Wynn last year. But when he started to believe the praise a little too much, a few teammates pulled him aside during a leadership group and told him to tone it down a bit.
Wynn listened and after a little humbling of himself, he has been humbling Utah's opponents as the leader of the No. 8. Utes.
Wynn's efforts to not only become a better football player but also a better leader have the Utes believing the sophomore can guide Utah (7-0, 4-0) safely through its most difficult stretch of the year, starting with Saturday's game at Air Force (5-3, 3-2).
"He has really come out of his shell confidencewise and socially," offensive lineman Zane Taylor said. "It has been that much easier to grow closer together as a team and gain that much more trust in him. It makes him more confident, too. When the quarterback is doing the right things and is comfortable, then the whole offense can function well."
No one can argue with the offense's efficiency this year. Utah ranks third nationally averaging 47.7 points a game and has scored 50-plus points in four games. Wynn's pass efficiency rating of 168.61 would lead the MWC and rank sixth in the NCAA, if he had the minimum game requirement (75 percent) to be eligible.
The numbers don't matter to Wynn as much as the Utes' record, which is why he is more concerned with beating Air Force and extending his mark to 6-0 as a starter than bettering his numbers.
"You have to go out and win," he said. "That is the real measure of success for a quarterback. Look at a guy like Dan Marino. He was a great quarterback and tore it up in the stats. He had amazing stats, but he never won a Super Bowl, so he is still a tier below Joe Montana. The bottom line is you have to win."
Wynn, 8-2 as a starter, said he has learned much of his philosophy under the tutelage of Brian Johnson, the Utes' winningest quarterback with a 26-7 mark.
"He went out and won," Wynn said. "Going back to the Sugar Bowl year, his stats weren't that great but they won. Everyone knows he won the Sugar Bowl."
Like Johnson, Wynn has made calculated strides to not only improve his game but improve his bond with his teammates. He moved in with defensive tackle Sealver Siliga and receivers Luke Matthews and Chandler Johnson.
Doing so provided some insight into his teammates, even if it came at Wynn's expense.
"Me and Luke messed with him all the time, playing pranks on him," Siliga said. "We'd wake him up in the night, stuff like that. But we are all so much closer. We can talk to each other, remind each other to stay humble. That is what is great about this team, we can say things and still respect each other."
Wynn also went out of his way to spend more time with his linemen. The way he gained 40 pounds to reach playing weight his freshman year got their attention, Taylor said, but he gained more respect by working out with them.
"Quarterbacks aren't usually known for their offseason work ethic, it's usually the big guys and the linebackers," Taylor said. "But he takes that stuff seriously, and it shows."
Wynn, listed at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, probably never will have the bulk of other quarterbacks, but the gains in the weight room in pounds and in team chemistry are of equal importance to him.
"I don't want them to think I am a pretty boy just out there throwing the ball around," he said. "I want them to see I work hard, and I think they do. We have a lot of personalities, but we fit into one."
As far as he has come as a quarterback, Wynn knows his biggest challenges to his image as a winner are ahead of him.
Beating Cal in the Poinsettia Bowl and earning MVP honors in the process was an achievement for Wynn, but keeping the Utes perfect in the coming weeks would put him on another level.
Wynn showed the competitiveness he needs to succeed by rebounding from his three-interception game at Wyoming to go 23 of 29 for 321 yards and three touchdowns against CSU, Johnson said.
"The biggest thing is he is playing with a lot of confidence right now," said Johnson, who led the Utes on a game-winning drive the last time they visited Air Force. "You can throw for as many yards as you want and as many touchdowns as you want, but no one cares [about that] if you don't win the game. He is coming along with his leadership and he does a great job of checking us out of plays and things like that. I am excited to watch him play this weekend."
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Jordan Wynn in 2010
Opp Comp Att Int Yds TD
Pitt 21 36 1 283 3
San Jose St 14 18 0 124 2
Iowa St 23 31 1 325 2
Wyoming 16 25 3 230 2
CSU 23 29 0 321 3
No. 8 Utah at AFA
P Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
TV • CBS College
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