Every foot that launched every field goal, extra point, punt or kickoff for the Washington Huskies last season has walked away.
Knee problems ended the career of Ryan Perkins, who hit seven field goals and made all but one of the team’s extra points. And graduation took Jared Ballman, who handled all the punts and kickoffs while also hitting two field goals and that other PAT.
Their departure shifts the attention this spring – and perhaps the pressure come fall – to redshirt sophomore kicker Erik Folk.
“As long as I do my best, that’s all I can do,” Folk said.
However, he admits the Huskies may need for his best to be pretty good.
“We definitely do,” he said. “A game could come down to a field goal, and I’ve got to be ready.”
Folk was exceptional as a high school player in Woodland Hills, Calif. In his senior season, he was perfect on extra points and hit seven field goals, including a 56-yarder. He was named to the Los Angeles Daily News all-area second team and the CalHiSports all-state third team.
At Washington, he redshirted in 2007, then watched Perkins and Ballman last season.
So far this spring, his field goal tries have been inconsistent, although new coach Steve Sarkisian spread the blame.
“Everyone wants to just look at the kicker, but there’s a battery and there’s an operating that goes into it with the timing of the snap, the hold the kick,” he said. “When you’re new and your teaching some new techniques, the timing can be off. We’ll get there. In time we’ll get there.”
Folk said two technique issues should settle things.
“I’ve got to keep my eyes back,” said the brother of Dallas Cowboys kicker Nick Folk. “That means I don’t want to be looking up at the ball as it goes through: Let the crowd or your holder tell you it goes through rather than watching it go through. And swing up – get the most height and power on the ball as possible. Once I get those two things down, I’ll be 100 percent, mostly.”
This spring, all the kicking duties are being handled by Folk and a handful of walk-ons. Punting help will come in the fall with the arrival of Will Mahan, who Sarkisian has called “the top junior college punter in the country.”
Sarkisian said there are a lot of athletes in the incoming class that will help on special teams.
“I’m anxious to get our young kids in there because that’s really the reason we recruited a lot of those kids is to come in and contribute on special teams right away,” he said.
The Huskies will take part in their first of three spring scrimmages today starting at 1 p.m. Sarkisian said the team will work through a variety of situations for about 90 plays in full pads.
“There will be tackling, and we’ll play football,” he said. “I don’t know if it will be so much different, but I think it’s a mind-set for our guys that this is kind of their first test. We’ve gone through six days now, and now it’s time to test them.”
The scrimmage, like all spring practices, is open to the public.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Luther Leonard, formerly of Evergreen High School, has been moved to wide receiver. “We thought, ‘We’ve got a really good athlete on our roster, let’s try to utilize him,’ ” Sarkisian said. “So we put him out on some special teams (Friday), we incorporated him some at the wide receiver spot, and he looked really good.” ... Friday practice highlights included a 45-yard fingertip catch by Anthony Boyles, a 25-yard completion from Jake Locker to Cody Bruns in the corner of the end zone, and an interception of Locker by cornerback Marquis Persley. ...
Sarkisian had more praise for tailback Demetrius Bronson. Sarkisian said Locker improved his accuracy even though the receivers “didn’t catch particularly well.” And on defense, he noted the play of Persley and of defensive end Darrion Jones for the second consecutive practice. ... Linebacker Bradly Roussel didn’t practice, which Sarkisian attributed to an academic matter.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808