PULLMAN, Wash. - With the return of punter Kareem Anderson and place kicker Rian Lindell, the Cougars are set for the 1999 season when its time to kick.
Anderson, a senior, averaged 40.5 yards on 70 punts a year go to finish fifth in the league standings, despite playing the last half of the season with torn finger ligaments. This year, the former transfer to WSU from Phoenix College, is healthy again and anxious to improve on his averages.
"Kareem Anderson had a great rookie (junior) season with us last fall and I expect even better performances this year," says Cougar head coach Mike Price.
When it comes to offense, Lindell, also a senior, has the leg to score from anywhere inside the 40 yard line, although he slumped badly over the last half of his junior season.
Lindell closed out WSU's Rose Bowl year of 1997 by hitting his final seven field goals. When the 1998 season opened he was equally hot, hitting seven straight after missing his first attempt of the year. After going 14-15, Lindell couldn't find the range for the rest of the year, hitting just one of his final nine field goal attempts.
"He had a very good spring and is working harder than he has ever worked," offers Price of Lindell's efforts.
Snapping the ball back to both Anderson and Lindell will be junior Erik Larson, who ably handled the duties last year as well.
New faces, however, are expected to pop up on special teams, with senior slotback Leaford Hackett penciled in as a key returnee for both punts and kickoffs. Veteran corner Chris Martin is expected to return kickoffs with Hackett, while redshirt freshman speedster Curtis Nettles will get a shot at returning punts, along with Hackett.
Anderson also does double duty by holding for Lindell's field goals and point after touchdown kicks.
Overall, Price expects improved play from WSU's special teams. "Our linebackers, because we have so many of them, will also play on special teams, so that is an area that should improve," offers the Cougar head coach.
NOTES: Jason Hanson (Detroit) is WSU's lone kicker on a NFL roster.
PRICE ON KICKERS AND PUNTERS:
Kicker: "Rian Lindell needs to condition to keep his weight down and he will do that. He had a very good spring and is working harder than he has ever worked."
Punter: "Kareem Anderson had a great rookie (junior) season with us last fall and I expect even better performances this year. He has never worked harder than he did in the spring and summer."
THE FACTS - KICKERS, PUNTERS
LETTERWINNERS RETURNING (2): P Kareem Anderson, Sr., PK Rian Lindell, Sr.
NON-LETTERWINNERS RETURNING (1): Nick Lambert, So.
TRANSFERS (0): None.
IMPACT NEWCOMERS (0): None.
STARTERS RETURNING (2): P Kareem Anderson, Sr., PK Rian Lindell, Sr.
BACKUPS RETURNING (1): PK Nick Lambert, So.
STARTERS LOST (0): None
EXPECTED STARTERS: P Kareem Anderson, Sr., PK Rian Lindell, Sr.