Mixed results so far in competition between Peyton Henry and Van Soderberg through the first full week of fall camp.
Standing near the 25-yard line, looking up as the football took flight over the west end zone, Chris Petersen raised both arms above his head.
Indeed, the kick from Peyton Henry’s left foot was good, the ball sailing through the middle of the uprights and some 20 rows up the Husky Stadium stands, where three young fans chased after it Saturday afternoon.
As pressure kicks go, Henry’s successful 20-yard field goal wasn’t much to get excited about, even if it was his first kick before an attentive audience (of about 1,000) during the first and only Washington fall-camp practice open to the general public.
That the No. 6 Huskies, three weeks before their season opener against No. 10 Auburn, can celebrate anything in the kicking game certainly counts as progress.
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Henry’s field goal came on the final snap of Saturday’s two-hour practice, and it gave the offense a “win” over the defense for the day — the offense’s first win following a full week of defensive dominance early in camp.
A left-footed redshirt freshman who came to UW as a walk-on, Henry has taken all of the first-team field-goal attempts so far in camp — with mixed results. He missed two pressure kicks, in the 35- to 40-yard range, in Friday’s practice, and as a result of those misses teammates had to run sideline-to-sideline sprints.
Sophomore Van Soderberg, the No. 2 kicker in camp, also missed a pressure kick Friday, and the result of that miss was UW coaches had to run sprints.
Petersen was asked Friday what he learned about the kickers through the first week of camp.
“That we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “That’s what it is, that we’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s hard in here (Husky Stadium), little bit of wind here. The ball is blowing around a little bit, but we’re going to have to kick in wind for real, so we’ve got to be able to kick in all elements.”
Henry had a better practice during a busy Saturday afternoon. During a sort of hurry-up-and-kick-it drill — the Huskies call it “Around the World” — Henry got five field-goal attempts from various ranges in about two minutes. Henry converted his point-after try; converted from 25 yards; converted from 35 yards; converted from 30 yards; and missed his last attempt from 26 yards.
Soderberg, trying to bounce back from his struggles as a redshirt freshman in 2017, made three of his fourth kicks during the drill, and freshman walk-on Dylan Williams made all three of his attempts.
A year ago, the Huskies ranked dead last in the Pac-12 in field-goal conversion rate (59 percent, making 13 of 22 attempts on the season). Senior Tristan Vizcaino was the primary kicker to open the 2017 season, lost his job midseason to Soderberg, then got it back — and then kicked the game-winner to beat Utah in November.
The Huskies now have three unproven options, and pressure is mounting to find an answer there soon.