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2009 Washington Preview - Special Teams

Great football teams have great special teams play. Don James hung his hat on it his entire tenure at Washington. A lack of an extra scholarship for a kicker cost Jim Lambright his job and a couple of possible Rose Bowl's during his tenure despite having on the highest winning percentages in the history of the program. The entire tenure of Ty Willingham was marked by attrocious special teams play which cost his porgram the victories he needed to survive.

Steve Sarkisian understands the importance of special teams play. He understands that it can make up close to one third of a teams performance on game day. He realizes that if his undermanned team can win this part of the game on Saturday's it gives the overall squad a shot at pulling off an upset here and there.

All that being said the Huskies enter tha fall with some big questions to answer in the kicking game. UW will have a new place kicker and punter this season. JC recruit Will Mahan didn't make it in for spring practice but he will be here this fall. Mahan would rather concentrate just on punting but he may be called upon to do double duty if Erik Folk continues to avoid splitting the uprights.

Folk didn't make anyone forget Chuck Nelson this past spring. He rarely hit all his PAT's and FG's in practice. He is coming of a back injury and is rusty but he represents a huge question mark heading into fall camp. UW ill have some new walk ons to compete at the position and they will take a long look at Will Mahan because this team can't afford to miss FG's and PAT's this season.

Mahan was one of the best JC punters in the country last season. He is about as close as you can get to being a sure thing at the position. We don't have any early reports on him yet but his JC coach is very confident in him.

Handling the long snapping duites for a fourth straight season will be Sr Danny Morovick. Danny is an excellent snapper and he is really going to help the kickers out this season. So QB Ronnie Fouch returns as the holder.

The return game should be a bright spot this season because Washington has a number of athletes who can fill the bill. So Jordan Polk did a very nice job last season and I can see his cousin RS Chris Polk lining up beside him to return kickoffs. Keep an eye on true frosh James Johnson who is scheduled to play right away. This kid is a true return artist.

I liked what I saw from Devin Aguilar last season returning punts. Usually you want a good hands guy back there so maybe we see the "Flea" DeAndre Goodwin back there too. Jordan Polk once again is another player that comes to mind for this position. James Johnson is going to get an immediate shot too.

The coverage units are all about coaching, speed, depth, and conditioning. Three of those factors have changed since Coach Sarkisian came aboard. Depth is something that only time will tak care of. Johnny Nansen is in charge of the unit and he brings a lot of youth and enthusiasm to the position which was lacking during most of Willingham's tenure.

If the Huskies can get some accuracy going in the place kicking department expect a lot of overall improvement from this unit in the fall.