5. An improvement is needed in special teams
The Wazzou kicking game has been headed up by Eric Mele for the past three seasons and it leaves a lot to be desired. Per the S&P+, it was the lowest rated part of the Wazzou football program during the 2017 season.
Before his arrival in Pullman, Mele had coached the lower levels of college football working at places like William Patterson University and Saint Peter’s College before a bump up to the Division II level at Wingate. Mele was brought to Washington State as an offensive analyst before being promoted to the special teams coordinator position.
The Cougars’ kicking game was ranked 75th by Bill C’s S&P+ rankings in 2017, 63rd in 2016 and 74th in 2015. Those are dismal rankings but he did improve them from 101st in 2014.
In the return game, Wazzou’s punt returner, Jamal Morrow, averaged a meager 3.6 yards per return. That put him at 46th in the nation (minimum 1.2 returns per game). The Cougars’ main kick returner, Renard Bell, averaged 18.8 yards per return which would’ve put him around 90th if he had enough returns per game (also 1.2).
Erik Powell handled all three duties meaning he was the placekicker, but also kicked off and handled punts during the season at some point. Powell was 19-of-23 on field goals missing one from every distance and had one blocked. That put him ranked 30th in field goal percentage. He missed one extra point, averaged 40.2 yards per punt and finished with 30 touchbacks. Powell was a redshirt senior and the Cougs will have to replace him.
The other punters averaged under 40 yards per punt which puts them under 70th, or so, Powell would’ve been ranked had he punted enough times.