After Florida State’s second half collapse in its loss to North Carolina State on Saturday night, it was apparent to everyone that the Seminoles still have plenty of work to do as a program. They may have some of the makings of a national title contender, but after Saturday’s debacle, it’s quite clear the Seminoles are not there yet.
Dustin Hopkins and FSU's special teams continue to look for consistency in 2012.
Today, we take a look at the issues that plagued Florida State on special teams.
Special teams inconsistency
Unlike the previous sections reviewing offense and defense, this segment will take more of a look at the entire season, as the special teams road has been a roller coster for FSU so far. Whether it be muffed punts, missed field goals or blocked punts, the Seminoles have managed to have nearly every special teams miscue.
Against NC State, everything was running fine for the Seminoles until late in the fourth, when true freshman punter Cason Beatty had a punt blocked for the second week in a row. The block would set up the Wolfpack with prime field position to win the ball game.
Punts: 6 punts, 237 yards (39.5 average), long of 51, 5 inside the 20, 1 touchback, 1 punt blocked
Kickoffs: 5 kickoffs, 298 yards, 1 touchback
As seen above, especially last weekend, the FSU specialists have done a relatively impressive job for the most part. This has been the case all season, but the disturbing thing is the costly mistakes. Most recently it has been with Beatty’s punting, as two late attempts of his have been blocked in back-to-back weeks.
Then there were Rashad Greene’s muffed returns early in the year, Dustin Hopkins’ struggles from distance in his first few attempts and freshman Reggie Northrup almost made a huge mistake of his own against the Wolfpack, touching a live punt on coverage team and nearly allowing NC State to recover.
Cason Beatty had his second blocked punt of the year against NC State, setting up the Wolfpack for a game-winning drive.
I said earlier in the season that if FSU continued to play with fire on special teams, it would get burned. And that’s exactly what happened against the Wolfpack, ultimately costing the Seminoles the win and most likely their national title aspirations.
There’s not much to say about fixing these issues except that it’s clear FSU has work to do on the practice fields to perfect its special teams operations. The Seminoles were working on punt formations in pre-practice walk throughs this week, with Everett Dawkins appearing to be working as the middle blocker. Dawkins has not been a member of the unit until now.
The good news is, the issues could definitely be worse and it’s not like the special teams have been completely atrocious for FSU. However, with an element as vital as special teams, mistakes come at a little bit of a higher price than in other areas, as we’ve seen in recent weeks.