Linebacker Mentality On Offense

There is a lot of talent and a lot of depth in the Cougar linebacker group. So much that the offensive coaches felt they could tap into that talent to bring a greater level of potency, aggressiveness and physicality to the offensive side of the ball.

He's excited, really excited, and for good reason. Austen Jorgensen has had a very good showing in spring camp, even though this is his first year of playing on the offensive side of the ball.

"Dude, I'm excited and I felt really good [yesterday] and feel more and more confident," said an excited Jorgensen. "It's pretty simple playing fullback and it's helping me get there faster. At fullback, I get to go out there and hit people."

Yesterday, Jorgensen lined up in the backfield with the first team offense in front of new running back Paul Lasike. The results with Jorgensen leading the way was Lasike ended up with three carries for 33 yards.

"It was a lot of fun," Jorgensen said. "I'm still getting a feel for the position but it's a lot of fun when things work out the way it's supposed to."

"I think our position, and the whole o-line position, is going to determine how well the running backs as a group turn out," Pritchard said with a laugh. "Even though all the light gets shed on the running backs after they do something good, it's the o-line and the fullbacks that do all the dirty work for them. So, don't forget about us when those guys break off a good run!"

Although Jorgensen feels he's growing within the fullback position, there are still plenty of fundamentals that he needs to master. He's now in the process of shaking off the remnants of old linebacker development and replacing them with new fundamentals crucial to playing fullback.

"I'm still getting a feel for the position," Jorgensen said. "I'm a little taller than most running backs, so I have to learn to approach my running lanes a little lower than usual. Some of the fundamental stuff I might lack at first, but it's getting to the point to where I'm beginning to feel good about what I'm doing and I can go out and make a block or hit someone."

"He's doing well and coming along," fellow fullback Iona Pritchard said. "He's got the mindset down and now just needs to pick up the little things here and there."

While the running back must have three qualities (run, block and catch) to be successful in the BYU offense, what are the pillars of success for a fullback?

"The key to being a good fullback is you must first be a very good blocker," said Jorgensen. "That's the key and that's more my strength right now. I don't know if I'm a hand the ball off to kind of guy, but there are other things that I feel I'm really good at when it comes to blocking and hitting people.

"The other thing that I feel I feel I can do is catch the ball out of the backfield. That's another thing the fullback has to be able to do well and we've seen fullbacks here in the past be really good at catching the ball and quickly turning up field. I think that's something I can do."

On a scale from one to 10, where does Jorgensen see himself on the position development scale?

"Oh, I don't know," he said with a laugh. "I would say a seven out of ten right now. I feel like I'm catching on pretty quickly so by fall I should be better. I really like playing this position and it's a lot of fun."

When Jorgensen played the linebacker position, his hallmark was that of a hitter. Now that he's a fullback, he no longer has to read and react when laying the wood and can go all out with one purpose in mind.

"Hitting is my thing and I get to do it with a full head of steam," he said. "At linebacker, sometimes, you're playing on your heels because you don't know what's coming and you can get whacked a little bit. At fullback, I get to go straight ahead and knock some dudes. I like it. I like it a lot."

"Hey, we're just trying to bring that Polynesian culture side of things to the fullback position," said Iona Pritchard. "If you can't run around them, you run through them."

It was his playing demeanor as an all out hitting linebacker that eventually led him to having to make a position change. The switch to fullback would still allow him to play aggressively while easing the stress and toll on his shoulders.

"They thought it was best for me," Jorgensen said. "The coaches felt that I could switch over and get some reps and help the team. I've also had some shoulder injuries and they felt that offense could ease it up a little bit on my shoulders. It's just a better overall decision for me and my family."

While his shoulders might not take as much punishment, there isn't much of a difference between the two positions when it comes to mentality and mindset according to the former Cougar linebacker.

"No, there isn't much of a difference in the mindset between a linebacker and a fullback," said Jorgensen. "When I talked to Coach Doman, he told me to bring the nasty with me. It's a very physical position and that's how defense is, and that's how I'm going to play the fullback position now that I'm on offense, so."

With Jorgensen's switch to offense, there is a little bit of espionage going on that defenders might not know about.

"It's weird because I know all of their tendencies and I know which guys like to hit and which guys don't," said Jorgensen with a laugh. "It makes it nice because I can get a little revenge on some dudes."

Fellow fullback Iona Pritchard gets a kick out of the offense's new informant.

"It's really funny because we'll be sitting back there and Austen will give us little tips about this guy or that guy," said Pritchard with a laugh. "He would tell us, ‘Hey, if this guy is coming up he's bluffing. This guy is the one that's blitzing.' So, we just sit there and laugh! He's always giving us little tips about the defensive front and their tendencies and things like that. It's really funny! It sucks for them but it's funny for us."

Rather than playing alongside his linebacker cousin Spencer Hadley at the linebacker position, he's now lining up against him.

"Yeah, we go against him once in awhile," Jorgensen said with a smile. "I warned him against talking trash. I told him, ‘Hey, you better watch your mouth.' No, there hasn't been anything like that."

So while Jorgensen is now on the other side of the line of scrimmage and will divulge player tendencies and secrets about his old position teammates to his new buddies on offense, he contends that there haven't been any hard feelings.

"I haven't talked any trash to the guys on defense yet," Jorgensen said with a laugh. "There's been no trash talking or nothing said in the pile or anything like that. They were all pretty excited for me when I made the switch."

Could that excitement and support come from a more dubious reason though?

"Well, that's a good question," Jorgensen said while laughing. "Maybe they were excited because there's less competition over there now. I don't know, that's a good question."

Perhaps his old linebacker buddies are the ones having the last laugh now.

"Well, we'll see how excited they are after spring camp," Jorgensen said with a smile.

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