NCF Nation: Jan Jorgensen
Junior quarterback Andy Dalton won offensive player of the year, defensive end Jerry Hughes won defensive player of the year, Jeremy Kerley was named the special teams player of the year and Gary Patterson was named the coach of the year.
Wyoming quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels was named the league’s freshman of the year.
Overall, TCU led the conference with nine players selected to the first team. Utah was second with six selections, including running back Eddie Wide, who replaced Matt Asiata midseason. BYU had four players named.
UNLV senior receiver Ryan Wolfe, BYU senior tight end Dennis Pitta and BYU senior defensive end Jan Jorgensen were named first-team honorees for the third time in their respective careers.
Lamb, BYU’s linebackers coach, who has played Air Force 17 times, said "The only thing about the Air Force game is they cut so much. They block low on your ankles and knees. It's not legal."
Jorgensen called the Falcons’ cut blocks, “legal, but dirty”
Outgoing UNLV coach Mike Sanford made similar comments about Air Force a couple weeks ago that drew the ire of Air Force coach Troy Calhoun. Sanford, who was fired the day after the game, was not reprimanded.
The comments from BYU’s Lamb and Jorgensen violate the league’s sportsmanship policy.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson
BYU senior defensive end Jan Jorgensen has played in some big games, but Saturday’s game against No. 3 Oklahoma at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium will be the biggest, and a fitting way to begin his final season with the Cougars.
I chatted with Jorgensen about that game and his thoughts on his team’s 2009 season.
|Boyd Ivey/Icon SMI|
|Jan Jorgensen has amassed 22 sacks in his career.|
Jan Jorgensen: I couldn’t ask for anything better. It’s exciting. I have an opportunity to go out and play the No. 3 team in the country and to open up the season like that. It’s just exciting and it’s what you play for. It’s why I play college football, to have opportunities like this.
After the way you guys ended last season, is there a little more motivation going into this year to kind of right the ship?
JJ: Yeah, there definitely is. There’s definitely motivation to go in there, get things rolling, though I shouldn’t say that we were horrible last year with a 10-win season. But the way that things ended, they ended really bad and we want to get things off on the right foot.
You guys aren’t getting a whole lot of questions about the BCS and continuing your undefeated string, does that make it easier to go into this year?
JJ: You know what? I think it does a little bit. It’s just different. I don’t know if it’s easier because our team always has high expectations, but the pressure isn’t quite there like it was last year. So, I think our expectations are the same this year as they were last, but I think a little of the pressure is gone, which allows us to go out and have a little more fun.
I was going to ask you about the fun aspect because I know that was something that your coaches and you guys had talked about this spring. Have you guys had more fun so far?
JJ: It’s definitely been much more fun this year. Our guys are working hard, but I think they’ve remembered that it’s a game. You play the best when you’re out there having fun, too. You’re not uptight; you’re not scared to make mistakes. You’re just out there playing a game and trying to make plays and it’s been good. We’ve really had that culture on our team so far.
So, I guess going into a game against Oklahoma, being as loose as you guys are, is probably a good thing?
JJ: Oh, I think it’s definitely a good thing. I think a lot of times if you get too uptight it’s really tough to get off to a good start and it takes a while for you to get into the game. And sometimes you’re so uptight that you’re out of the game before you even know it. But when you’re loose and ready to go, especially against a team like Oklahoma, I think that it can only work to our advantage.
Obviously, most people are discounting you guys in this game. What does that do to your locker room and the mentality of the team?
JJ: You know, we don’t really pay attention to it. We know a lot of people are discounting us, but to be honest with you, we really don’t pay attention and we really don’t hear people talking about it in the locker room. People on the outside can hear and say and believe whatever they want, but in our locker room, nothing is said about it. We’re just doing our thing. We’re confident and we know how we can play.
What would a win against Oklahoma mean for this team?
JJ: Oh, it would be huge. Very huge. But in the end it’s just one win. It sets us up for a great opportunity the rest of the season, but it’s just one big win.
Is it hard not to look at the opportunities that a win would set you up for?
JJ: For me, I’ve thought about it a little bit, but in the end, why think about that if it doesn’t happen? You know what I’m saying? You just have to focus on whatever happened with that game and whatever comes, comes.
After finishing as a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award a year ago, TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes headlines the award's preseason watch list that includes eight players from the nonautomatic-qualifying schools.
The award, which is in its eighth season, is given annually to the nation's top defensive end. At least one player from every non-AQ conference is represented. No player from the nonautomatic-qualifying schools has ever won the award.
Hughes led the nation in sacks last season and helped TCU become the nation's best total defense, best rushing defense and No. 2 scoring defense. The Horned Frogs also were second nationally in sacks.
Non-AQs on Hendricks Award watch list
Alex Carrington, Arkansas State
Jan Jorgensen, BYU
Frank Zombo, Central Michigan
C.J. Wilson, East Carolina
Dontay Moch, Nevada
Jerry Hughes, TCU
Brandon Lang, Troy
Koa Misi, Utah
While many are talking about who Auburn did hire, former NBA star Charles Barkley is talking about who the Tigers didn't. Barkley tells ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach that Auburn missed the boat on Buffalo's Turner Gill and didn't hire the former Nebraska star because of his race.
• Mike Bianchi, columnist for the Orlando Sentinel is wondering whether he owes Central Florida coach George O'Leary an apology after calling for his firing last week.
• Utah isn't wowed by Alabama's rushing offense, but it is impressed by running back Glen Coffee and how simple can be effective.
• BYU receiver Austin Collie said on Thursday that he's going to explore options in the NFL and now several sources have told the Salt Lake Tribune that Jan Jorgensen will do the same thing. Both players will seek evaluations by the NFL's advisory committee.
• Fresno State didn't have the season it expected, but there's still the New Mexico Bowl to end the year on a high note.
• Doug Smock of the Charleston Gazette writes that it's not right that after all East Carolina's hard work this season, all they get is a matchup against a 6-6 Kentucky team.
• Florida coach Urban Meyer admits that Notre Dame is still a dream job.
Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson
LAS VEGAS -- Welcome the Independents and Others blog (otherwise known as the non-BCS blog). We're officially kicking off ESPN's Blog Network with in-depth coverage of media days. My goal is to take you both inside and outside of the media room and give you a feel for the event.
If you've been reading the non-BCS blog for the last couple weeks, thanks. However, that was just a sampling of what's to come this season. Now that the season has officially begun (at least from a media standpoint), there will be more posts with more information than ESPN.com has ever provided on the non-BCS teams before. Chances are every time you check back there's going to be a new posts, so check back often.
I will be learning about the 54 teams of the non-BCS while providing you comprehensive coverage of the schools you love. I welcome feedback -- I know there's already been quite a bit -- and I want to know what you want to know. All ideas are welcome in this forum just send them to my mailbag.
Over the next few days I'll be taking you through the magical world of media days. It's a dizzying time where coaches and players move from microphone to microphone during a two-day span voicing their hopes and concerns about the upcoming season.
First up is the Mountain West Conference from Las Vegas. I believe the MWC has some of the strongest non-BCS teams in the country, including BYU, which has a legitimate chance of making a BCS bowl this season.
"I think we have an excellent team returning and I think the program philosophy now has matured and is engrained in our team to the point where it more is replacing and reloading the faces that have left rather than identifying and trying to develop new names and faces," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
BYU starts this season with a 10-game winning streak from last year and has won 11 games in each of the past two years. It's those results that have BYU coaches, players and fans thinking the team is poised to return BYU football to its glory years of the '80s.
"The expectations have just increased around our program to the point where folks are now talking again about BYU like its glory years and as a national contender," Mendenhall said. "Our goal all along is to try and return the program to that place. When you consider having 10 of 11 players back offensively, and really, most of our losses being defensively, I think it allows a lot of excitement and scoring potential. I think that's why most folks have us maybe being predicted as an early season favorite in the league and maybe on the national level."
The official MWC media poll will be released today and I'll post it as soon as I see it. My guess is that BYU and Utah top the conference with TCU, Nevada and New Mexico rounding out the top five.
MWC media days will begin with television interviews as early as 8 a.m., but print folks, such as myself, won't begin until 9 a.m. I'll be loitering around the lobby to see if I can get some interesting tidbits before then. It is Vegas, after all.
In fact, I ran into both the BYU and Utah student-athlete representatives Sunday afternoon.
Utah quarterback Brian Johnson was being interviewed and teammate Louis Sakoda looked on. As luck would have it, Johnson finished right when a troop of Hawaiian Tropic models were walking through the hotel. He stopped them and he and Sakoda took photos with about seven young ladies.
I also ran into BYU quarterback Max Hall and he told me he had flown in from Arizona after attending the wedding of BYU tight end Dennis Pitta, who married the sister of Hall's wife, Mckinzi.
"I'm really close with him and all my receivers," Hall said. "To be honest I was really hoping she'd marry him. I was being a little selfish."
Hall and defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen have never been to a media day, and said they've been told that they'll answer the same questions many times over. As for down time, Hall said he spent his sleeping. Jorgensen isn't sure what the two will do.
"We don't drink, don't gamble, don't really do anything," he said. "We'll probably go to the pool, but we can't be hanging around the Hawaiian Tropic girls like the Utah guys."
Coaches and student-athletes will speak from a podium for 10 minutes then coaches will have individual interviews. The student-athletes will have their individual interviews with print media on Tuesday.
The print interview schedule is as follows (player representatives in parentheses):
Air Force (Travis Dekker, Ryan Kemp)
New Mexico (Zach Arnett, Donovan Porterie)
Wyoming (Ward Dobbs, Devin Moore)
Utah (Brian Johnson, Louis Sakoda)
Colorado State (Jeff Horinek, Kory Sperry)
TCU (Blake Schlueter, Jason Phillips)
BYU (Max Hall, Jan Jorgensen)
San Diego State (Russell Allen, Tyler Campbell)
UNLV (Casey Flair, Frank Summers)