WSU vs. PSU: Closer look at WSU special teams

PULLMAN — Special teams, which have been a deciding factor in each of the Cougs' first two losses, did not play a big role in deciding the Cougs' 59-21 win. That said, it's always important to look closely at how Wazzu did in that phase of the game. And we start by evaluating the kickoffs ...

Erik Powell kicked off a lot, 10 times on the night. Three boomed almost as loudly as the cannon that fires after every Cougar touchdown. Still, three of 10 touchbacks leaves something to be desired. But his other kicks were such that the Cougars were able to get down the field and limit the yardage that the Portland State returners gained. Of the 10 kicks, the farthest return was to about the 25-yard line.

Rickey Galvin had one dropped punt return but was able to recover it, so disaster was avoided there. And Galvin had a solid night otherwise. He gained 70 yards on six punt returns with a long of 44.

Cougar punts were few in number but Jordan Dascalo averaged 45 yards per punt with a long of 50. Solid, solid, solid.

The biggest thing for the Cougars on Saturday was that they hardly settled for less than a touchdown. Quentin Breshears was the only kicker the Cougars used, and he was accurate in the one opportunity he had. He had to wait until the fourth quarter for an attempt, but he drilled a 29-yard field goal to put WSU ahead 45-21 with under 12 minutes to play -- any faint hopes for a PSU comeback ended there. The Vikings never took the opportunity to kick a field goal.

Jamal Morrow and Marcus Mason were the primary kick returners for the Cougars, although it was only Darryl Paulo who showed up statistically because he returned the only kick that was not a touchback for four yards, (PSU had 3-of-4 kickoffs ruled touchbacks.)

Kristoff Williams, normally the Cougs' No. kickoff return man, was absent from the game. Mike Leach declined to shed light on where he was or his condition. He said it was highly classified.

Isiah Myers wasn’t only active in the receiving game on Saturday. He also handled the holding duties on extra points, with Isaac Dotson inactive for the majority of the practice week. Dotson became the holder after River Cracraft missed the Nevada game with injury. Cracraft was back for PSU but did not go back to either the punt return or holder role he held in the opener.

All in all, a relatively clean game for the special teams units unfolded at Martin Stadium on Saturday. There's clear room for improvement, but also things to be pleased with.


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