Korey Durkee is 6-foot-4 and 222 pounds. He has the build of a tight end – but serves as the University of Washington’s full-time punter.
Travis Coons is 6-2, 205. He is a good enough athlete to play either fullback or rover. But he is the Huskies’ full-time placekicker.
Both wear the same-numbered jersey – No. 46.
So on Saturday, when the Huskies lined up in punt formation at the end of the first quarter, all the Portland State Vikings saw was a man in a purple No. 46 jersey standing deep.
A fake-punt pass highlighted a day of special-teams bliss for UW – and misery for coach Nigel Burton and his visiting squad – in the Huskies’ 52-13 victory over the Vikings at CenturyLink Field.
Not only did the fake punt net a first down and lead to the Huskies’ third touchdown, UW also recovered an onside kick to start the game (Justin Glenn), returned a field goal 79 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter (Tre Watson) and blocked PSU’s point-after kick midway through the third quarter (Marcus Peters).
During the week, UW coach Steve Sarkisian and special teams coordinator Johnny Nansen both agreed to pull out a fake-punt play – the team’s first since the 2010 Apple Cup when Kiel Rasp hit Jermaine Kearse on a 30-yard pass that set up a touchdown.
What was particularly surprising about the timing of the play call this early in the season is that the operation – Durkee at punter and Ryan Masel at long snapper – is made up of true freshmen.
But when the Huskies faced a fourth-and-3 from the Vikings’ 48, up 14-0, Sarkisian went for it.
And No. 46 stood deep in the formation, motionless, like a sly fox.
But which guy was it? Could teammates really tell the difference between the two?
“Oh, yeah,” UW safety Sean Parker said. “One of them (Coons) has a tattoo on his leg.”
Except for this game, Coons wore high white socks over the body marking.
“I can tell the difference,” UW senior Justin Glenn said. “Durkee … he is kind of a goofy guy, just the way he stands.”
Added tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins: “Korey is obviously a lot bigger – and a lot paler.”
The man Sarkisian chose to run the play was Coons, who was never noticed from the Portland State sideline. He took the snap, took a step to his right as if to rugby punt, pivoted back to the other direction and lofted a soft pass in Parker’s direction down the left sideline.
It traveled about 30 yards in the air – but went for a 16-yard gain when Parker hauled it in. Six plays later, quarterback Keith Price threw his second touchdown pass, a 3-yarder to Kasen Williams for a 21-0 Huskies lead with 12:17 remaining in the first half.
“We had that wired in,” Sarkisian said. “It looked great all week with Sean (running the route), and Travis throwing it. It was there at that time, so we ran it.”email@example.com 253-597-8442 blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @ManyHatsMilles