Bowlin's yellow shoes to get the boot?

PULLMAN -- Washington State senior punter Mike Bowlin's yellow shoes may not be long for the world if he doesn't start booting the ball better, WSU special teams coach Eric Russell quipped after Tuesday's practice in which Bowlin again struggled.

The yellow shoes, which have screamed out of the TV screen these first three weeks of the season, actually aren't the issue. It's Bowlin's mechanics.

"There is no doubt," Russell said about Bowlin being off mechanically. "Mike won't keep his head down on the ball, and jams himself. We have had a few sky kicks so you aren't going to get the deal, but he hasn't punted the ball anything close to what he did a year ago or what he was doing at fall camp.

Mike Bowlin is averaging 37.2 yards per punt this season. That's the worst in the Pac-12 and No. 109 out of 113 nationally. A number of his boots have traveled end-over-end or took a line-drive trajectory.

Last season he averaged 41.9.

"It's all fundamentals," Russell continued. "I don't know how much of it is mental, but trying to get that stuff fixed there is no question because he has not been what we needed him to be. It might be those shoes."

"Obviously I have to be blind not to notice them I guess," Russell said jokingly of the shoes. "I have no part in his shoes; they might be a short-time thing. We can get rid of them here if things don't get better here pretty quick."

During Tuesday's practice, most of Bowlin's punts were in the 40-yard range and only one went as far as 45 yards.

  • The Cougs have two other kickers/punters listed on the roster -- walk on Wes Concepcion and Andrew Furney. Concepcion booted two punts of 51- and 31-yards in the Stanford game last year after he replaced a struggling Bowlin (three punts, 29.7 avg.) Bowlin reclaimed the starting job the following week. Concepcion, a junior out of Kentridge High, was the SPSL Special Teams Player of the Year in 2010. Furney punted in high school for Burlington-Edison High but has never done so for Washington State in a game.

  • Bowlin has fared better on kickoffs through three games, with nine touchbacks on 17 kicks. He's averaging 62.7 yards per kickoff.

  • Bowlin has five punts inside the 20-yard line this season.


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