Folk looks to improve on rough season

No one position has been synonymous with Arizona's recent failures as the kicking game. Gone are the days of Max Zendejas, Steve McLaughlin and Gary Coston. With the demise of the kicking game has come a five-year drought from post season play. This year the Wildcats hope to change both of those trends.

Last season the Wildcats benched Bobby Gill midway through the year and opted for redshirt freshman Nick Folk. Gill made just 2-8 field goals, but Folk failed to make any of his three kicks after taking the job.

"Everybody was surprised," Folk said of the kicking woes. "Me and Bobby had worked in the off season. Once one thing went bad things started to go bad for everyone. It was a bad season."

This year it is Folk's job to lose and he has worked hard to ensure that he wins the job and fends off all comers.

"I have worked hard in the off season and have tried to get more consistent," Folk explained. "I am trying to get my technique and form correct and do everything I can right."

Folk has looked good in the spring so far. He is showing very nice leg strength and good accuracy. He's not quite where he would like to be, but he has turned the head of his new special teams coach.

"I don't know hat happened last year," Joe Robinson confessed. "I will simply say the time I have had to work with Nick I have been very impressed with him. He has a very strong leg, which I think you saw on kickoffs last year. We need to harness that energy and we need to work on getting the kick off in a time that will allow our operation to be good and accurate with it."

Folk is joined in camp by walk-ons Adam Goldstein and Chad Werley. Goldstein was in the squad last year, while Werley is in camp for the first time. All three kickers have worked hard and an important person has noticed.

"Our kickers came out and kicked well," observed Mike Stoops. "They have some strength. They have kicking abilities. It is about confidence and getting them a lot of work under fire and that is what we are going to do."

Folk worked with former UCLA kicker Chris Sailer and has noticed the difference already. He didn't change his mechanics very much, instead he focused on the mental aspects of thins and just fined tuned a few small aspects of motion.

"I didn't change anything," Folk insists. "There were minor details like keeping my head back and some things that needed tuning up. Every time I missed the ball I knew what I was doing wrong. I needed to work on them and that is what I have been doing."

One thing he has been trying to do is not think about a kick as much and just react. Like a hitter in baseball or a golfer, Folk finds it is better to just trust his instincts and mechanics, rather than over analyzing ever step, every movement. It turns out that by clearing his mind his focus is improved.

With Goldstein and Werley kicking well, and Texas prep standout Jason Bondzio on the way, Folk has his hands full in trying to keep the job. The sophomore is not worried about the pressure of keeping his job, he's more worried about the pressure of just trying to consistently make field goals.

"I think there is quite a bit of pressure," Folk said. "It is good pressure. I have a lot of support of the team."

He also has the support of his new coach. While the job isn't his just yet, he has shown enough to have gained the confidence of Robinson.

"Nick is going to get better and better," Robinson said. "I think Nick is a very talented player. It is my job to bring the talent out."

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