CORVALLIS, Ore. (REUTERS) – Oregon State punt returner Terrell Roberts had surgery on his broken left hand Tuesday, and coach Dennis Erickson criticized the hit that caused the injury.
Roberts was waiting for a punt during the second quarter of Sunday night’s 44-24 loss at Fresno State when he was hit by the Bulldogs’ Kendall Edwards. Edwards’ helmet hit Roberts’ hand, and Edwards was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Under the rules, the returner has a 2-yard “halo” around him. A defender who enters the space before the returner catches the ball is assessed a five-yard penalty.
Erickson said the punishment is too little, allowing coverage teams to go all out on returners without fear of a serious penalty.
“It’s open season on punt returners,” Erickson said. “You tell me [Edwards] didn’t know he was in the zone when he hit him? No, he did, he knew it. He was trying to make a point, whatever the reason. Now all of a sudden you get a broken hand because of it. I think it’s wrong, and I think what he did was wrong.”
Roberts, who is also a backup cornerback, will miss Saturday’s game at New Mexico State. Erickson said he could return for next week’s home game against Montana State.
Erickson said he didn’t think Fresno State coach Pat Hill condoned the hit or instructed anyone to go after Roberts. But he said the rule leaves open that possibility.
“It depends on how you want to coach it,” Erickson said. “You can take your guy and say, `Forget the halo, go ahead and make a point. Five-yard penalty, big deal.”‘