The return of the tight end on the Palouse

Tight end Billy Riviere III caught one of Cougs’ three passing touchdowns in the game



WSU tight end Billy Riviere III runs onto the field before an NCAA football match against Idaho, Sep. 3, at Martin Stadium.

JAKE HULL, Evergreen reporter

WSU football (4-1) saw a major bounce back from the heartbreaking loss last weekend to Oregon 44-41 with a 28-9 defeat of Cal at home.

One major point of note in the game was that with six minutes and 19 seconds left in the fourth quarter, WSU quarterback Cam Ward threw a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Billy Riviere III. This is the first time WSU has had a tight end touchdown in 11 years. Under former head coach Mike Leach, WSU did not use tight ends and did not have them in the offensive game plan until current head coach Jake Dickert took over.

Last December the Oklahoma native tight end Andre Dollar announced he was flipping from Oregon and was committing to WSU to play for Dickert and the Cougs. Dollar is the Cougs first tight end commitment in Pullman since Max Hersey committed in 2011.

So far this season true freshman Dollar is yet to record a reception but was thrown to by Ward late in the fourth quarter against Cal when Ward attempted a left-handed one-yard pass which Dollar dropped for an easy touchdown. 

The true freshman has been used more as the season has gone on and it should not be long now before he gets his first collegiate reception.

Amongst the Cougs new-look offense under offensive coordinator Eric Morris, is Riviere, a sophomore tight end from Medina, Minnesota. Riviere went to Wayzata High School and was ranked the No. 13 prospect in Minnesota.

Riviere redshirted during the 2019 season at North Dakota where his father Bill Riviere played. In 2020 and 2021 he played in 16 games mostly as a reserve tight end and a special teams player but did not catch a pass.

In January he transferred to WSU and was a part of the spring practice team before playing in four of the five games so far this season.

Against Wisconsin, Riviere caught two passes for 40 yards with one pass being a 38-yard reception, the first tight end reception since 2011. This was also Riviere’s first career reception. The last time a tight end for WSU caught a pass was the Apple Cup in 2011, the tight end was Andrei Lintz.

Under Leach, the air-raid offense did not require tight ends. After eight years Leach left and was replaced by Nick Rolovich. Rolovich ran more of a run-and-shoot game which also had no tight ends.

With new coach Dickert and new offensive coordinator Morris the new “Coug Raid” offense uses tight ends for more than just blocking, they catch passes as well.

“I think I ran like four routes my last season there,” Riviere said to the Spokesman Review in regards to his time playing at North Dakota.

The new look Cougs are set to make an impact on the offensive end, using tight ends for the first time in 11 years. 

They are starting to produce results for the Cougs, as Riviere caught the 38-yard pass against Wisconsin to set up the 17-14 upset.

Dollar should have had a touchdown against Cal, but Riviere caught the touchdown on the next play on fourth and goal from the Cal one-yard line. 

WSU will need all the offense they can get this weekend as they travel to Los Angeles to take on the sixth ranked USC Trojans Saturday.