Luettgerodt Setting the Table for a Ute Feast

After a nearly two years of anticipation, BYU outside linebacker Justin Luettgerodt will finally have his chance at instate rival the University of Utah. For the Mountain West Conference defensive player of the week, however, it is just business as usual.

When BYU lost 52-21 against fifth ranked Utah to secure an undefeated season and a first ever BCS bowl birth by a non-BCS conference school, Justin Luettgerodt was sitting on the sidelines nursing an injured knee. Now this gritty, hard-hitting turnover machine hopes to feast on the Ute offense by capitalizing on his 9 tackles, including 4.5 sacks, for a combined loss of 47-yards on the season. Luettgerodt also leads the Cougar roster with three interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

"Well, besides it being a rival game it's also the last game of the season so we've got to set the table for who ever it is who's coming down here and it just so happens to be Utah," said Luettgerodt. "Most of the intensity comes from the fans and everyone else who wants to pay more attention to the situation that revolves around this specific game. For us as competitors the motivation is already there just like it is every week.

"Anytime you have a instate rivals, it's sweet. I wasn't apart of this situation last year, but I'll tell you what, I felt it when we lost. The way this program is this year is the heart of the story, and we're just preparing ourselves for this game like we've done with any other game. The motivation part of it is not a factor at all, and they're a good team but we expect to win."

Luettgerodt's attitude is that Utah is just the next game on the schedule. According to him, the team is not caught up in the rivalry hype.

"I think there is a lot more of that for the fans than us," Luettgerodt said. "The priority for us is to get that 7-4 record and go to a bowl game."

Nothing has changed in regards to weekly preparation. Nothing extra was said or done by the coaches to motivate an already competitive team. Coach Mendenhall and his staff view every game as equally important.

"We're going to just do the same things we've done every game week in and week out," Luettgerodt said. "If anyone thinks that we would go into any other game taking it a little more lightly than we would go into this game they've got something coming. We're going into this game the same way we've gone in prior games. If we have to step it up going into this game than we haven't been playing good football."

Playing some good football is what Luettgerodt has done all season. In fact, this week he joins fellow teammate Curtis Brown as a Mountain West Conference player of the week. The honors mark only the third time in the history of the Mountain West Conference that players from the same team have earned offensive and defensive players-of-the-week in the same week.

On November 1, 1999 Kevin Feterik and Jared Lee first earned the dual honors against Air Force. Brandon Doman and Ryan Denny followed on September 10, 2001 against the Cal Bears and head coach turned BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe.

"I try not to pay to much attention to that stuff to much," Luettgerodt said. "All I hear is what family and friends who do pay attention to that tell me. I try not to pay attention to that and just tell my parents to gather what ever they want and hold on to it for the rest of their lives, but I got bigger things to accomplish right now and need to stay focused. If you can emulate anything it would be that man [Mendenhall] because he doesn't look at a drop of media. Not a single thing come a win or a loss, and I respect that man so much for that."

While rehabbing his injuries last year, Luettgerodt was asked the question, "Which quarterback would he most like to hit?" The response was, "Who ever it is taking snaps under center wearing a U of U uniform." However surprising at it may seem, that is no longer his mindset. BYU's has already played against the team with the quarterback Luettgerodt wanted to hit the most.

"Since [last year] I obviously had some emotions at the time since I wasn't able to play and show what I could do, but times have changed," chuckled Luettgerodt. "The person I wanted to hit the most was my best friend Jarrod Jackson the quarterback at UNLV. I didn't sack him but I hit him once and picked him up, and that was a much better feeling."

That disposition may change once Luettgerodt sees the men in candy scarlet take the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

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