Position Preview: Special Teams
Key players lost: Phillip Doumar (LS) and Kenny Shaw (PR)
Key Newcomers: Brian Crews (P) and Stephen Gabbard (LS)
Biggest question entering 2014: Can Florida State fix its punting problem?
When your team’s inability to punt effectively nearly costs you a national championship it may be time for a change. Last season Florida State ranked 59th in the country in punt average. The problem was hidden for most of the season because Florida State average only three punts per game (the least in the nation). It reared its ugly head in the national championship game though when Auburn was consistently gifted with excellent field position. In his two seasons as Florida State’s full time punter Cason Beatty has averaged just under 40 yards per punt. With the amount of talent throughout Florida State’s roster, punting has become the only glaring weakness. Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has said there will be an open battle for the punting job during fall camp. Beatty’s main competition may very well come in the form of a freshman walk-on. Brain Crews is a preferred walk-on from nearby Lincoln High School and he will have a chance to fight for the job in the preseason.
Punting problems aside, Florida State has one of the best special team units in the nation. Redshirt sophomore Roberto Aguayo won the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s best kicker, last season. Aguayo made 21 of his 22 field goal attempts in 2013 and all 94 of his extra point attempts as he set multiple national and conference records.
Florida State is also set in the kick return game where the Seminoles bring back dynamic return man Kermit Whitfield. One of the fastest players in the nation, Whitfield is a threat to take the kick for a touchdown every time. Florida State will have to replace punt returner Kenny Shaw, but the Seminoles have multiple players available to fill spot. The only other change will be at long snapper. Florida State signed local prospect Stephen Gabbard to fill the spot and he should take over the job from day one.
By: Brandon O’Connor