Solid Footing

<b>Xavier Beitia </b> had only one field goal in FSU's first three games this season. Of course, coach Bobby Bowden opted to bypass a Beitia field-goal attempt for field position against Georgia Tech two weekends ago. Well, Beitia bounced back in impressive fashion Saturday against Colorado, punching out a career-best 16 points on the strength of four field goals. His timing couldn't be better, as FSU turns it attention to Duke and then welcomes -- guess who? -- rival Miami in three weeks.

Xavier Beitia made his point against Colorado Saturday.

Beitia accounted for a career-best 16 points on the strength of four field goals in Florida State's 47-7 victory over the Buffaloes.

The last time an FSU player kicked four field goals in a game was when Brett Cimorelli nailed four in a 54-7 victory over Clemson on Nov. 4, 2000.

Beitia had only one field goal in FSU's first three games this season. Of course, coach Bobby Bowden opted to bypass a Beitia field-goal attempt for field position in the closing minutes against Georgia Tech two Saturdays ago.

Beitia admitted to be being "irritated'' with that decision.

It didn't help matters when watching the replay of the game, television announcers alluded to the troubles experienced by Beitia and FSU special teams. The unit had suffered from a combination of bad snaps, poor timing between kicker and holder and two blocked kicks.

Beitia's lone made field goal was a 26-yarder in the season opener at North Carolina.

"To hear the replay on Sunshine [Network] Monday night they were like, `Oh, it used to be a gimme field goal, but since he's been struggling they're not going to make it,' '' Beitia said.

``And I'm sitting there thinking, `Struggling? I missed one kick, but I got two blocked. How have I been struggling? For lack of a better word I just got pissed off. I went out there with something to prove.''

FSU coach Bobby Bowden said Sunday that Beitia, the Seminoles' leading scorer the past two seasons, has looked strong in practice. Former Seminole kicker Bill Capece, who resides in Tallahassee, also has offered advice.

"I think Beitia – he had one blocked, and missed one – so really, he's only missed one field goal this year," Bowden said.

"I think Bill Capece has helped him a lot. Bill lives here in town, and he observes him. He sits up in the stands and observes him, and he'll talk to me about the things he thinks (Xavier) needs to do, and this and that. And I think he's communicating with Xavier. I think that's probably helped him a little bit."

There has been concerns that Beitia remained caught in a post-Miami funk.

After missing the potential game-winner against the Hurricanes from 43 yards, Beitia converted just six of his final 12 field goals last year. Of course, with Miami quickly approaching next month, that game -- and Beitia's miss -- will certainly be rehashed.

"You know, going out there so confident to kick that field goal, wanting that opportunity, and then missing it," Bowden said.

"That's got to shatter you, just shatter you. So it takes a while to overcome that. But you've got to go through it sometime during your career. Get it out of the way. It's going to get you in pro ball, it's going to get you in college ball – it's going to get you somewhere down the line. You're just not going to hit them all."

Although Beitia's 28-yard field goal attempt against Maryland in the season's second game was blocked, Bowden believes his kicker made positive strides in practice leading up to that game and has built on that momentum.

"The thing that made it look like he had begun to pick it up is before the Maryland game, our last play from scrimmage the Thursday before that game, he kicked a 54-yarder under pressure," Bowden said.

"The next week, we got him in the same situation. Really, what we were doing is working on a one-minute offense. Fourth down, you didn't make it, field goal will win it. The next week, he kicked one about 48 or 50 yards under the same circumstances. It made you feel like – we really had him in a pressure situation, and it looks like he's more authoritative kicking the ball than he was, and he's done that since."

Of course, Bowden also doesn't mind if his decision not attempt a field goal against Tech helps nudge Beitia in the right direction as well.

"To be honest with you, that had nothing to do with him. But that's good," Bowden said.

"You hope it does motivate him. That's good."


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