It’s due to hit 90 degrees or so in Seattle today, and I think it was close to touching that as the Huskies left the field after their practice this morning.
No one was hotter as practice ended than kicker Erik Folk, who nailed tries of 54 and 49 yards during the 11-on-11 session that concluded the workout. (The picture shows Folk in a game last year at UCLA).
The 54-yarder, to the closed end of the field, might have been good from 60 or so. The 49-yarder, to the other end (where it’s typically more difficult to kick with the breeze coming off the lake) was also good by quite a bit.
Afterward, UW coach Steve Sarkisian said that the kicks were indicative of a stronger leg for Folk, now a junior. Last year, UW didn’t try a field goal beyond 48 yards. He said this year, he won’t hesitate to attempt longer kicks.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Sarkisian said. “He’s just healthy. You’ve got to think he went into last season, he was coming off a serious injury, and now a whole year of really strengthing his body, it’s showing and it’s evident in all the things he was doing. … the first one might have been 54 and he hit it well. It was probably three-fourths of the way up the upright, and the last one was 49 maybe, and he struck the ball extremely well. It’s just his comfort level now with the battery, snap, hold, kick.”
Sarkisian said that Folk was just as impressive during an earlier kickoff session.
“I thought today as well, not just on his field goals but his kickoffs were impressive, too, when we worked the kickoffs. He was a good 3-4-5 yards deep in the end zone, a much bigger improvement from where he was last year.”
This morning’s workout was the first of two today — the first two-a-day of the year for UW. They will also take the field tonight at 6:45 for a full pads workout that will include some scrimmaging. So the morning workout was lighter (helmets only).
Still, it was intensive, running about two hours, with a lot of work on the two-minute drill. Each of Folk’s kicks concluded drives by the offense.
One of the scoring drives was led by Jake Locker, the other by Keith Price. Locker ann Nick Montana also had drives that ended without a score.
The highlight for Locker during that drill was about a 39-yard pass to Devin Aguilar that set up the first field goal. Price hit walk-on WR William Chandler and TE Michael Hartvigson to set up the second Folk kick.
Price was also 4-4 during an earlier team drill, once hitting Zach Fogerson out of the backfield while rolling out.
Sarkisian said he liked the overall effort.
“I thought they were great this morning,” he said. “This was a real emphasis today on two-minute work, and that entails quite a bit of running and getting your legs going and getting the lactic acid out, and that’s the idea when you practice in the afternoon that next mornig getting out and running and doing those things, and then we will give them all afternoon, come back this afternoon and meet and put the pads on and do some hitting.”
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— Chris Polk and Nate Williams continue to be limited by design. Said Sarkisian: “I want to keep these guys fresh. Especially the veteran guys, when they’ve got a strain that could linger, I don’t want it to linger, I want to nip it in the bud right now and get it out of the way so they are healthy going into the season. We’ll monitor them. I’d be surprised, I bet they do half the work tonight. But I don’t mind it because the young kids at their position, I want them to get the reps anway. Sean Parker is getting an abundance of reps with Nate out, and the young kids, Jesse (Callier) and (Deontae) Cooper at running back, with Chris not going, they are getting a great deal of work, and it’s paid off. When Jesse got his extra runs yesterday it paid off, he had a fantastic practice.”
— Josh Shirley had a couple of nice moments, once dropping back into coverage and batting down a Jake Locker pass.
— Ben Riva (under the weather) again sat out, but otherwise everyone seemed available to at least a certain extent. Evan Hudson, out earlier in the week with a shoulder, was back out during drills, though possibly because this was a non-contact session.
— Cody Bruns had about a 20-yard TD catch from Montana during a 7-on-7 drill and Jordan Polk also had a few nice catches, each seeming to have had a few nice days this week as they battle to stay in the WR rotation.
— Sark talked a little afterward about dual-sport players and said the key question he asks is “does he really want to do it? Has he ever done it before? That was the challenge with Clarence (Trent), that he really hadn’t played football in a long time and you’ve got to really want to do it. Football is not for everybody. It’s a pretty violent sport, there is a lot of contact, a lot of bumps and bruises and soreness. And I think that’s the number one question. It’s not about a guy athletically being capable of doing it it’s does he really want to do this and mot just for a couple of days but over the long haul.”
— He also talked a bit about the RB rotation and Johri Fogerson’s role. He made a key point that there won’t necessarily be clear line of rotation behind Polk, with guys instead being used in situations that may best fit their skills. That’s most true in the case of Fogerson, who may be the best receiver of the bunch. “Johri is kind of our utility player, if you want to put it in baseball terms. He’s kind of a jack of all trades, he can do everything, and that’s a great asset to have. He’s a nice runner and has excellent hands and he’s willing to block and smart and can line up all over the field, he’s a nice route runner, so he’s the kind of guy that we’ve got our own little package for Johri that gets developed into the game plan. One snap he might be at tailback, the next snap at fullback, the next at wide receiver. But that’s the beauty of the versatility of the offense to get him in position to make those plays. … We’ll put guys in position to do the things they do well and when the times are called for the types of plays we are looking for certain guys are going to be in.”
— Prodded by a Tacoma-area reporter, Sarkisian also talked a little bit about his BYU days. He said he actually doesn’t remember the BYU fight song and hasn’t stepped foot in Provo since his college career ended. “I don’t remember the BYU fight song, to be honest with you. That was a long time ago. I don’t know.” So instead of playing the BYU fight song during practices leading up to the game, he said “I’ll probably play some ‘Star Wars’ and different things that they like to play in the stadium. I’ve got a few of the songs I know they like to play.”
— Asked the last time he had been on campus, he said: “Probably my last day there. I haven’t been back on campus – haven’t been in the football office or to a game or anything. When I recently had gotten done playing, I went to Vegas and watched them play in a WAC championship game. That was the only time I’ve seen them play, and I haven’t been back there – haven’t had a chance to and/or a reason to.”
— He has joked that he will only go out to the field at halftime for the QB renunion planned for that day if UW is ahead. Told he might be booed, he said: “They’ve booed me before in that stadium. I’m not that concerned about it.”
— Sarkisian also reiterated that Andru Pulu wouldn’t be returning to the team. “He’s been technically dismissed now,” he said.
— As for the snapping and holding jobs, Sarkisian said Bruns has nailed down the job as holder. Brendan Lopez seems set as the long snapper for punts, but Sarkisian said Hudson and another walk-on, Peter Becker, are still in considering for the FG/PAT snaps.