Minot State University quarterback Bryce Jorgenson might as well start going by the moniker of "Mox," with the No. 4 to match James Van Der Beek's character Jon Moxen in the 1999 box office smash "Varsity Blues."
Jorgenson admits the promotion from the third-string quarterback to the first starting gig in his collegiate career for Minot State University has been like a dream sequence.
"That's exactly what it feels like (a movie)," Jorgenson said. "Not many people get the opportunity to go down to Texas to play a football game and start for a college. Hopefully, I'll have a happy ending like the character in "Varsity Blues" did."
Well, happy ending or not, the product from West Fargo High School, whose experience in front of playing in a major crowd is limited to playing in front of 4,000 at the Fargodome as a senior during the Class AAA State semifinals against Minot. You might be safe to assume to triple the attendance when he faces the passionate fan base who considers football a cult status to the point it inspired H.G. Bissinger's 1988 book "Friday Night Lights."
Being the signal caller for a school who is going through a provisional season at the NCAA Division II level, in its first season out of NAIA, is a lot for Jorgenson to handle.
Jorgenson remembers when he was asked to be called in last week's home opener against Concordia University. With then starter C.J. Evans struggling in the first half, Jorgenson was as mentally prepared as he could be having shared half the reps in preparation. All of a sudden, Jorgenson was abruptly in charge and responsible for the offenses success or failure.
"I remember standing by Rudy (coach Paul Rudolph) doing the backup signal calling and getting all of the right personnel in. All of a sudden he turns to you and says 'get loose.' You have no choice but to get your head on straight," Jorgenson said. "All the scenarios go through your head on what could happen out there. Two things could happen. I could go out there and go with the flow, or I could get nervous."
There is a lot of pressure on Jorgenson, and that he says is the way he likes it.
Just like Van Der Beek's character "Mox" did in an intense situation, Jorgenson responded and brought his team back from an improbable scenario, down 36-0. He helped the Beavers climb back into the game and gave MSU two important factors they have entering this momenmental task of playing University of Texas A&M-Kingsville: confidence and a team identity. These two factors coach Rudolph conquered are worth a figurative million dollars to the team. Jorgenson completed 23 of 37, for 307 yards passing, and found two solid receiving targets , Jarbari Taylor and Nate Christianson.
For Jorgenson, he never envisioned his first starting gig in Kingsville, Texas, saying it "wasn't on the agenda."
Jorgenson said there is a major difference of him being the signal caller now in terms of expectations.
"Well, the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is watch film, and there is a lot more on the plate than there used to be," Jorgenson said. "Things are a lot more intense in practice too."
Jorgenson, is making his start in Javelina Stadium, a venue that seats over 18,000 people.
"I don't plan on having a voice on Sunday (the day after the game) that's for sure," Jorgersen said. "I remember when I played in the Fargodome (in front of 4,000), I didn't have a voice the next day either."
Either way, Jorgenson's path to be the No. 1 signal caller is not only improbable, it's a Hollywood script. He'll need it against Kingsville, a team that has produced more NFL players than any other program in the history of NCAA Division II. Good luck "Mox," You'll need it.
Since 1990 Paul Rudolph has been coaching, and has never coached in a single competition in what is the football mecca of the United States: Texas.
However, Rudolh has had many experiences that will be comparable to participating in Texas. Perhaps Rudolph, won't experience the hostility he faced when his team traveled to a game in Pittsburg, Kansas, in 2003 to play.
Rudolph recalls the hostile environment that 14,000 passionate fans created.
"I was telling the coaches, I remember in 2003, we were down in Pittsburg. It was one of the best tailgating situations I've ever seen. I have never been called so many names in my career," Rudolph said. "None of the trash talk was talking about my mother very nice. The team took a little while to get going because we were a little shell shocked at first."
Rudolph also recalls the venue in which his team played.
"It was a great venue," Rudolph said. "It was a great experience. In academia they always talk about studying abroad. Well we get to do the same in football. Take in as many venues, and watch as many games as possible."
Although the travel accommodations have been "odd," MSU will get paid $36,000 from Kingsville to play against them. It will cost about $40,000 to ship a roster of 64 players down to Texas. However, Rudolph said the cost is comparable to playing a game in Valley City and, other than travelling on charters and splitting up into groups, it's been business as usual.
Let's just hope the Beavers experience a little southern hospitality, not southern hostility, in what will be viewed as a learning experience for a program in a transitional year.
(Jason Blasco is the Minot State University beatwriter for The Minot Daily News. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 701.857.1935.)