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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

April 6, 2010 at 8:02 AM

Field goal kicking not a question mark for UW in 2010

My story for today’s paper focused on receiver Cody Bruns, who is taking on a new role this spring as holder for field goals and PATs.
In the process of writing it, I was reminded again of what a good season Erik Folk had in 2009.
Despite what he did, though, I continue to see comments from people asking about the kicking situation for 2010, and my first reaction is that maybe somehow it didn’t sink in exactly what kind of season Folk had last year.
Recall that Folk hit 18-21 field goals and all 35 PATs as a sophomore last season.
The latter may seem like no big deal, but it was actually only the second time since 1990 a UW kicker didn’t miss a PAT. The only other kicker in that span to make all of his PATs was none other than Michael Braunstein in 2006, when he made all 32 of his PAT attempts and then was “Suddenly Seniored.” (Actually, Evan Knudson also did it in 2005, hitting 28-28).
Folk’s field goal performance a year ago, however, shouldn’t be overlooked in any manner. Folk’s percentage made was 85.7, the third-best in UW history.
The only two better were Chuck Nelson’s 25-26 in 1982 (96.2 percent), and Jeff Jaeger’s 23-26 in 1985 (88.5). Those two are generally considered the two best field goal kickers in UW history. Each, however, was able to kick off a tee (a rule changed in 1988), and during a time when the goal posts are wider than they are now — 18 feet, six inches now compared to 23 feet, four inches then, a change made in 1991.
Folk’s long was 48 — Nelson and Jaeger each had a long of 49 in the seasons listed above.
Folk hit all seven of his kicks from 20-29 yards, 7-8 from 30-39 and 4-6 from 40-49, a progression that indicates consistency. Maybe the reaction from some that he was inconsistent is because each of the three he missed seemed pretty key — a 42-yarder against LSU when the Huskies were trying to stay in the game, a 48-yarder at ASU in a game UW lost on a last-second TD, and a 38-yarder at UCLA in another game UW lost right at the end.
But he also hit all three against USC, including a 46-yarder in tough conditions early in the fourth quarter and the one at the end that won it, and all three in even tougher sledding at Notre Dame, including a 37-yarder at the end that tied it up, and three others at UCLA.
Where Folk could use some improvement is in his kickoffs, both in length and consistency of direction, though it’s worth recalling that that job is also a little harder now than it used to be — it was in 2007 that kickoffs were moved back five yards, from the 35 to the 30. When I see e-mails from people wondering why UW can’t find a kicker who can kick it into the end zone anymore, I assume many may not realize they made this change. (Also worth remembering that there may be few tougher places to kick in the nation than Husky Stadium, which is at sea level and often buffeted by rain and wind).
Long-term, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Huskies were to sign a kicker for the Class of 2011 — Folk will be a senior next year. UW tried to sign one this year, getting a commitment from Alejandro Maldonado before he decommitted late and instead signed with Oregon. UW took that commitment before seeing how Folk — bothered by injuries his first two years — would respond, and also figuring Maldonado might be able to at least handle kickoffs. And obviously, a year ago at this time we all were wondering how the field goal position would unfold, if Folk could hold up and do the job — he unquestionably did, making a moot point a few spotty performances during scrimmages.
So for now, assuming Folk can stay healthy — and that he did so last year would seem to put those issues to rest — this is one position, like quarterback, holding no uncertainty heading into 2010.

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