Washington kicker Erik Folk back on track, with some help from his brother, NFL kicker Nick Folk
Washington's Erik Folk made all three of his field-goal attempts Saturday in the Huskies' victory over Eastern Washington, including a 53-yarder that was the longest by a UW kicker at Husky Stadium.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Hawaii @ UW, 12:30 p.m., ROOT Sports
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When Erik Folk first got serious about kicking a football, older brother Nick was off in Tucson, doing some real serious kicking of his own for the Arizona Wildcats.
And when Erik Folk progressed enough to earn a scholarship at Washington, Nick was embarking on an NFL career — he's now with the New York Jets.
Through a lot of those years, "We didn't really cross paths at all," said Nick Folk, who is four years older.
That changed this year when Nick Folk — like every other locked-out NFL player — found himself with nothing but time on his hands.
With no practices to attend and no facility to work out in, he moved back to the family home in Woodland Hills, Calif., for most of the spring and summer. And when little brother Erik came home for summer breaks, the two finally found the time that had so often eluded them.
"It was awesome," said Nick Folk. "I finally got to work with him a little more than a day here and a day there."
The Huskies were the happy beneficiary Saturday. Erik Folk made all three of his field-goal attempts — 53, 47 and 40 yards. The kicks proved critical as UW had a surprisingly tough time holding off Eastern Washington before prevailing, 30-27.
Lost in the shuffle of the late-game excitement and concern about the Huskies' play was that the 53-yarder marked the longest field goal ever made by a Washington kicker at Husky Stadium (opponents have kicked a few longer, including a record 60-yarder by Kenneth Naber of Stanford in 1977).
The performance earned him Pac-12 Player of the Week honors and indicated he has recovered from a slump he fell into late last season.
Folk has made 34 of 44 attempts in his UW career but he missed seven of his final 13 last season, prompting coach Steve Sarkisian to say at his season-opening news conference that one of his goals during training camp was to restore Folk's confidence.
Monday, he pronounced it again fully intact.
"I don't think he's missed a field goal beyond 50 since training camp has started and it carried over into Saturday," Sarkisian said. "I mean 53, 47, 40, and none of them were really in doubt. He's striking the ball extremely well. He's confident, so I feel great about him."
Those were the kicks Folk had difficulty with a year ago — he was 9 for 9 from inside 40 and 4 for 11 outside 40.
"From 45 (yards) and out last year, I struggled," he said. "Somewhere in the back of my mind (I) changed a couple things up for those and did not swing like I know how to."
Folk said the problems came when he didn't keep his leg straight all the way through the kick and lifting his head too soon.
In April, with the NFL lockout in full effect, Nick Folk attended UW's spring game and pointed a few things out to his brother.
"It helped a lot," Erik Folk said. "He was able to see like the little, tiny things I was doing wrong that I wasn't really noticing, so that really helped out. We worked mainly on just keeping everything up and swinging up instead of around, stuff like that."
After Erik Folk took some time off after spring football to rest his legs, he again worked with his brother while home from school in the summer.
They would head to a local high school and work on various drills, including some mock game situations.
"I'd put the ball down and say, 'All right, this kick is going to beat Nebraska,' " said Nick Folk, who made the Pro Bowl in 2007 while kicking for Dallas and is now entering his fifth year in the NFL. "He helped me a ton, too, being able to watch me and get an extra set of eyes out there."
The break after the spring, when Folk rested nagging leg injuries — he missed the 2007 and 2008 seasons with hip and back injuries — also helped.
"This is the healthiest I've ever seen him," Sarkisian said.
Sarkisian had hoped he might see even more of Folk. Due to the two missed seasons, the Huskies recently appealed to the NCAA in an attempt to get him a sixth year of eligibility so he could return in 2012. Sarkisian said Wednesday, however, it doesn't appear the appeal will succeed.
• Quarterback Keith Price, who was limited in practice Monday and Tuesday while nursing a bruised knee suffered against Eastern, took part in all of practice. Sarkisian afterward said simply, "I think he looks fine."
• WR Jermaine Kearse and CB Quinton Richardson remain on track to start Saturday.
• Hawaii practiced at home Wednesday morning then flew to Seattle and will practice locally Thursday and Friday in preparation for Saturday's game. The team will stay on the mainland for a game at UNLV on Sept. 17.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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