Let’s talk about Peyton Henry.
Someone has to, because Washington’s sophomore placekicker isn’t overwhelmingly willing to talk about himself. This time last year, Henry hooked a 37-yard field goal at the end of regulation in an eventual 30-27 overtime loss at rival Oregon. He blew the biggest kick of his life in the biggest moment of the biggest game of the season.
But that’s not the remarkable part.
Let’s talk about his response.
After connecting on 16 of 22 field goal attempts last season, Henry surprised many by beating out scholarship freshman Tim Horn for the starting job in fall camp. Then the Danville, Calif., product nailed a (briefly) go-ahead 49-yard field goal in an eventual 20-19 late-night loss to Cal, and earned a scholarship several weeks into the 2019 season.
In seven games this fall, he has converted all 14 field goal attempts and 29 extra points.
The Oregon miss could have capsized his entire career. Instead, it’s inspiration.
“He’s kind of the silent assassin so far this season,” UW head coach Chris Petersen said following last week’s 51-27 win over Arizona. “He just kind of goes out there and does his job and no one says a whole lot about it — unassumingly so, which is kind of the way we like it.
“I’m proud of that guy. We kind of knew last year. We told him that he’s going to be a darn good kicker if he just stays at his craft and keeps working — which he has, non-stop.”
Henry certainly hopes that work pays off on Saturday afternoon, when No. 25 Washington (5-2) hosts No. 12 Oregon (5-1) in presumably wet, swirling conditions inside Husky Stadium. The home team, like its kicker, will enter the game as an established underdog.
But the adversity is recent history.
Let’s talk about the response.
“I think you’re seeing it,” Petersen said, when asked how Henry reacted to the Oregon miss. “He’s worked really hard in the offseason, and I think you’re seeing the fruits of his labor.”