It has been a bit of an up and down season for true freshman punter Cason Beatty.
The 6-foot-3, 229-pound Charlotte, N.C. native was tasked with replacing consensus All-American Shawn Powell, now punting for the Buffalo Bills. Beatty averaged 38.4 yards per punt this season, pinned 19 inside the opponents 20-yard line and had three punts of 50 yards or more.
FSU's net punt average of 34.16 yards per punt ranked 108th in the nation. Beatty also had two punts blocked this season as he struggled during the middle of the year.
"It just made me learn and had to switch up a few things and take care of it," Beatty said.
Beatty contacted his kicking coach, Dan Orner, and the two worked out a solution to his struggles. Beatty finished the season with two solid performances in a pair of pressure-packed contests.
In the ACC Championship game Beatty had a net average of 37.3 yard per punt. Against Florida he had three punts, one inside the 20, and two that were fair caught.
"My drop was just way too high and the ball was moving in the air," Beatty said. "So I just decreased the space between my drop and kick time."
Beatty still has a long way to go before he reaches Powell's level, but head coach Jimbo Fisher thinks he could be well on his way.
"As a punter I think the sky is the limit for him," Fisher said. "Really only punted for about a year before we got him. Very explosive leg. Did a great job kicking balls inside the 20. His leg at this time, the great punter we had last year Shawn Powell, he's every bit as talented as Shawn
I think he had great year for us as a freshman and I think he's going to be a very good player in the future and I think he's even a better young man."
Adjusting to life without Stoops
It has been a strange couple of days for FSU defenders as they adjust to life without defensive coordinator Mark Stoops.
Stoops, who accepted the head coaching job at Kentucky just before the ACC title game, will not coach in the Orange Bowl against Northern Illinois. Defensive ends' coach D.J. Eliot will serve as the defensive coordinator in the game, the same role he'll have next year for Stoops at Kentucky.
Eliot has taken charge of the defensive gameplan and practices this week, along with the help of linebackers' coach Greg Hudson. For the players the move has been a bit of an adjustment, but they say its going well.
"It's a little different just because Coach Stoops is not out there, but we're still going through the same steps that we normally do," junior linebacker Christian Jones said. "We miss having Coach Stoops out there, but it is what is. He had a great opportunity to go to Kentucky and we're all proud for him."
While Eliot has taken over Stoops' gameplanning responsibilities, a few veteran defensive backs have assumed a sort of player-coach role to help get the younger DBs prepared for the game.
Safety Lamarcus Joyner and cornerback Xavier Rhodes have been helping line up their teammates and making sure they know their keys before each play this week in practice.
"It's been fun," Joyner said. "Coach Fisher challenged us with that. I thought it was going to be pretty tough but it's ended up being pretty easy having been in the system for three years, having Coach Stoops teach us enough to trickle it down to the young guys."
Pruitt reaches out to Joyner
While nothing has been officially announced on Florida State's end about the hire of Alabama secondary coach Jermey Pruitt to fill the vacated defensive coordinator spot, Pruitt did reach out to Joyner in an effort to touch base with his start safety.
Joyner said he didn't know much about Pruitt's background but that he did appreciate him reaching out.
"I'll have to sit down and talk to him," Joyner said. "He gave me a phone call so I'll have to return his call and we'll have to get to know each other from there."
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