OSU return men: A golden opportunity vs. WSU

OH, TO BE Rahmel Dockery when the Beavers host the Cougars (Pac-12 Networks, 1 p.m.) Or Chris Brown, Malcolm Marable, Steven Nelson or Terron Ward. Maybe Ryan Murphy, too. These are the likely P/KO return men on special teams on Saturday. It's not as if WSU has been poor in punt and kickoff coverage. "Poor" would be a step up. No, the Cougs on special teams in 2014 have been legendarily awful.

That's because Washington State has surrendered six -- SIX! -- combined punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns this season.

They've allowed three punt returns for score, three kickoff returns for scores in nine games.

Hell, 350-pound d-tackle Siale Hautau has probably been lobbying Mike Riley for a shot at a return this week.

The strange thing: WSU has, on specific occasions, times where they've been decent, sometimes even good in coverage. But there has seemingly always also been at least one major folly to go along with that. Take WSU's game against Arizona. There were four WSU punts in the game:

Right off the bat, Washington State allowed an 81-yard punt return for a TD.

The final three WSU punts went like this: downed, return of minus-1 yard, downed.

It's been like this all season for the Cougs. It's been so bad they took the rare step of firing their special teams coach six weeks into the season.

"WSU's special team units... have made at least one significant, and in some cases game-changing, special teams gaffe in all six games," Cougfan.com said in reporting Eric Russell's dismissal. "Russell's kickoff return unit (in the loss to Cal) gave up two returns for touchdowns (100-, 98-yards) and the Cougs missed a 19-yard field goal at the end that would have put WSU up 62-60 over Cal with just seconds remaining."

But the staff change hasn't made a difference.

Washington State in the three games since the firing has allowed two more returns for score and the only game they stopped a guy from getting into the end zone, they still gifted Stanford a boatload of return yards (134) on six combined punts and kickoffs.

If you're Oregon State's Rahmel Dockery (pictured above), you are not only relishing the opportunity against such a porous special teams unit, you also have the added incentive of wanting to stick it to your former team on Saturday in Corvallis. Click here.

WSU coach Mike Leach said last week the Cougs just might kick everything out of bounds. That would be an improvement.

Because if the Cougs do kick it to the Beavers on Saturday afternoon, then Dockery, Chris Brown, Malcolm Marable, Steven Nelson, Terron Ward and/or Ryan Murphy might well have a game they one day tell their grandchildren about.


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