WSU special teams remain a mystery

PULLMAN— While a complete and thorough review will undoubtedly take place in the offseason, with four games remaining on the schedule Washington State is in deep need of an immediate special teams Band-Aid. Indeed, Saturday's menu featured a special teams disaster sandwich, with the Cougar punt- and kickoff-teams giving up Arizona's first and last touchdowns in the Cougs' 59-30 loss.

It's not like WSU has just been standing pat. Mike Leach already fired the special teams coach mid-season.

But if WSU wants to turn this thing around, and starting next Saturday against USC, they probably need to reexamine everything they're doing on special teams - how much time is allocated to the units during practice, personnel, the whole shebang. That might prove difficult during a practice week. But the alternative, as witnessed Saturday in Pullman, is worse.

Are there too few starters on the special teams units? Is there a special teams malaise present because too many upperclassmen, both in starting and backup roles, just don't have the desire or dedication when it comes to performing on the special teams units? Because special teams are about passion more than they are physical talent. Some coaches say they're entirely about passion.

Jordan Dascalo boomed his first punt 53 yards, which should have perfectly positioned the Cougar defense. Instead, the defense never took the field. At least three Cougars missed tackles on Arizona's return man on his 81-yard touchdown jaunt. Several other Cougars didn't come close to shedding their blocks.

A missed extra point and a failed onsides kick later, the Cougars attempted another onsides kick, one they had a chance to recover. Instead, a guy in a white uniform popped out of the scrum and returned the ball 44 yards for a touchdown. He wanted it more.

There were bright spots again, there almost always have been special teams bright spots along with the failures this season.

Dascalo averaged 50.8 yards per punt with a long of 53. Quentin Breshears hit a 40-yard field goal, his lone FG attempt on the night. And linebacker Frankie Luvu forced a fumble on a kickoff return (pictured above) that was recovered by fellow 'backer Cyrus Coen.

But even that kickoff return coverage began badly with a missed tackle.

WSU can't wait to fix their special teams -- not if they want to turn a corner on a season where 2-6 now stares them in the face.

The WSU offense came out flat on Saturday night. The special teams came out undead.

And unfortunately it's looking like the 2012 WSU football team seniors, whom Mike Leach famously called out after a 2-4 start that year as having a "zombie-like, empty-corpse quality," seem a bit healthier by comparison to the WSU 2014 special teams.


Cougfan Top Stories