Paul Wulff setting bar high for special teams

SPECIAL TEAMS CAPTURE far too little notice for their impact on winning and losing football games. As the Cougars prepare to kick off fall camp on Aug. 7, Paul Wulff weighs in on the WSU special team units..

Special teams have been a troubled spot for WSU going back a good number of years. Last year there was improvement, but the Cougs now lose their 2010 punter and long snapper to graduation.

Wulff, however, sees considerably better things on the 2011 horizon.

"I expect them to be vastly improved, like the whole team," said Wulff.

Among the arguments for substantial improvement on special teams, the second year bounce.

"It will be their second year in a new system, so that will help. Plus, we have more players and better speed to put on those units. But they understand more from coach (Dave) Ungerer in the second year," said Wulff.

There will be kinks to work out in fall camp. Kicker Andrew Furney wasn't exactly automatic during the spring, though he did drill a 53-yarder in the finale in Spokane. Dan Wagner, taking over for Reid Forrest, had a solid spring but an off day in Spokane. Neither of those two special teams areas, however, look to hold as much fall camp drama as will another unit.

"The kicking game is important (to get squared away) and we have to be able to kick and punt the ball and be solid in our coverage units. But what we haven't had is the return game -- and we need to have it. Fall camp will determine it," said Wulff.

Wulff noted a large contingent of candidates for the kickoff and return man jobs.

On kickoffs, the list includes Isiah Barton Rickey Galvin, Daniel Simmons, Kristoff Williams and Carl Winston. Returning punts, Leon Brooks, Henry Eaddy, Rahmel Dockery and Barton are among the possibles.

"We'd like to find two guys we feel strong about at each spot. We have camp to try and find that consistency, we don't have answers yet," said Wulff.

As for the gunners, that may be where walk-on Bennett Bontemps finds a niche. Another candidate stands just 5-8, but he turned some heads this spring and could be a fixture later in his career.

"He has shown some things there," said Wulff of Bontemps. "And maybe even Eaddy, he's also shown some things there...but probably more down the road. Spencer Waseem and some other guys could also be good performers there for us this year," said Wulff.

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