Sometimes a jinx can hit even before a story is published. Keep that in mind as you read our last position preview, because we’ll have a note about the field goal kicking in our usual daily practice summary. The unedited version of tomorrow’s S-R story is on the link.
• Here’s our last preview. It’s on the special teams …
PULLMAN – Like all long snappers, Washington State University’s Zach Enyeart would just as soon not be noticed. Usually that happens only when something goes amiss.
“I don’t want people to know my name,” the redshirt junior said this week, “because then I know I messed up.”
But there is someone in Enyeart’s family who wishes he were easier to follow.
See, when the 6-foot-1, 249-pound Enyeart runs off the bench to snap for a field goal or a punt, about the only part of his body that appears on television is his, well, his backside. Which makes it difficult for his grandmother to figure out which one of the guys up front is him.
So she came up with a request. Could they please put Zach’s name across the top of the back of his pants so she could see it once in a while?
“She’s pretty funny, she can’t ever see where I’m at,” Enyeart said, laughing.
Though her request probably won’t be fulfilled, Enyeart knows there are good ways to get recognition. Already one of the most accurate and powerful long-snappers in the Pac-10, his goal for this year is to at least double the three tackles he came up with last season. Toward that goal, he lost almost 30 pounds over the summer and worked on his speed.
However, Enyeart’s role on punts, after getting the ball safely to Reid Forrest, isn’t to blow up the receiver.
“My job is to go straight to the ball, square up, and make him make a cut into the other guys,” said Enyeart, who is in his third year snapping for WSU.
A walk-on out of Skyline High in Sammamish, Wash., Enyeart earned a scholarship with his play last year and his effort in the spring. Unlike many long-snappers, he not only does the punting chores but also is in for extra points and field goals as well.
“The only real difference is feet placement,” Enyeart said. “With a PAT snap my feet are going to be about 6-to-8 inches wider than on a punt snap. And I don’t look (at the) snap on my punts but I look on my field goals.”
The guy Enyeart will sees on field goals, junior Nico Grasu, figures into the Cougars’ offensive plans. As offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy explains, some coaches define the red zone as their kicker’s effective range, with the emphasis on effective.
Enyeart thinks Grasu, whose long last year came from 47 yards, can easily connect from beyond 50. “I’ve seen him hit 65-yard field goals before,” Enyeart said. “He’s got the leg to hit big field goals.”
What Sturdy figures into his play-calling is the kicker’s consistency. And thus far this fall Grasu, who hit nine field goals – with three in the Apple Cup, including the 37-yard game-winner – in 13 attempts last season, hasn’t been all that consistent. Which bothers head coach Paul Wulff.
“I’m concerned, there’s no question,” Wulff said of Grasu’s practice performance. “He needs to perform better than he is. The team needs him to do that and I know his expectations are to do that. … He’s very capable of it.”
The Cougars will probably be even more capable at a spot no one likes to use: punter.
Junior Reid Forrest, who came to WSU from Ephrata High as a walk-on quarterback, averaged 41.2 yards a punt last season. He’s added height, distance and accuracy over the summer, making his right leg a weapon.
“With Reid, he has the ability to turn the field over,” Sturdy said. “I think the whole thing there is offensively, don’t turn the ball over. … The bottom line is, you don’t turn it over and you punt … you’ve got a great punter, let him turn the field over for you, play defense, get the ball back and go at it again.”
“They way he’s been punting in camp,” said Enyeart, who usually looks at Forrest upside-down, “he should be up there in the Pac-10.”
As determined by me, so take it for what it’s worth …
(Height, weight, year and 2008 starts in parentheses)
Reid Forrest* (6-foot, 184, RS Jr., 12)
Daniel Wagner (6-foot, 210, RS So., 1)
Nico Grasu (6-1, 223, Jr., 11)
Patrick Rooney** (6-foot, 198, RS Sr., 0)
Zach Enyeart (6-1, 249, RS Jr., 13)
Kevin Baffney (6-1, 227, RS Fr., dnp)
Brandon Jones*** (5-9, 183, RS Jr., dnp)
Aire Justin (5-11, 164, RS So., 6)
Kevin Norrell (6-foot, 190, So., 6)
Gino Simone (5-11, 174, Fr., dnp)
* Also serves as holder
** Will do kickoffs
• That’s it for now. We’ll be back in a little bit with our practice report. Until then …