One of Huskies coach Chris Petersen’s favorite things about UW’s 48-13 victory over Rutgers: no special-teams penalties. That was especially important on John Ross’ 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and Dante Pettis’ 68-yard punt return for a touchdown.
And there were no big kickoff or punt returns by Rutgers receiver Janarion Grant, who entered the game with six career return touchdowns but was limited to just 76 yards on three kickoff returns because UW kicker Tristan Vizcaino booted five touchbacks. (He did average just 34.2 yards on four punts, though none of them were returned.)
A touchback is the goal on every kickoff, Vizcaino said. Here are some other remarks from UW’s junior kicker after a stellar season opener by the Huskies’ special teams.
(On his punting performance) “I think right now it’s just improving consistency every day, working on my technique, trying to get a little more yardage on my punts, get them more downfield a little bit. Get our gunners a little more time to get down there and get in front of the returner. But just like this past game, try to shut down the returner and not let them get any returns in on kickoff or punt.”
(On rugby-style punts) “I think I’ve been practicing that a lot in the offseason, throughout fall camp, just getting it perfected, getting it ready for the game, and I feel really confident about it. I think it’s going to be huge for us, implementing that in the game, and it’ll be a big weapon for us moving forward, especially with a lot of the dangerous returners the Pac-12 has.”
(On having a preference between kicks and punts) “That’s got to be our mindset – whatever they need me to do is what I’ll do, and I’ll do it to the best of my ability and try to help our team win every game.”
(On having zero special-teams penalties) “It’s great that we have no penalties. First game, you kind of expect to have some mishaps happen, but that’s just a testament to how well this team has prepared for this first game and the season in general. All the work we put in is coming to show in the games.”
(Always going for a touchback?) “I’m trying to hit it every time. If I can eliminate a return, that’s ideal for us.”