Life Lesson

<b>Xavier Beitia </b> is not scared. No way. If next Saturday's Florida State-Miami showdown at Doak Campbell Stadium happens to once again tick down to a last-second field goal, Beitia says he will be ready. More than ready. In fact, Beitia believes last year's UM game was a life lesson that has helped in his development. "It's made me a better teammate, and more importantly, a better person," Beitia said. Click here for the entire story.

Xavier Beitia is not scared.

No way.

If next Saturday's Florida State-Miami showdown at Doak Campbell Stadium happens to once again tick down to a last-second field goal, Beitia says he will be ready.

More than ready.

"I would like that to happen, but I'm sure the team would like to blow ‘em out. If it happens, I'm up for it. I'm not scared. It's another kick," Beitia said.

UM was helped last season by yet another last-second missed field goal by the Seminoles, hanging on for 28-27 victory that helped the Hurricanes land in the national title game against Ohio State.

For the fourth time since 1991 in the storied rivalry, FSU failed to connect on a field goal that would have tied or won the game. But unlike the first three years that sailed wide right, Beitia's 43-yard attempt sailed wide left.

While FSU fans would rather forget last year's heartache, the last-second miss will be an oft-repeated theme this week -- especially after UM kicker Jon Peattie nailed a last-second field goal to beat West Virginia last Thursday in the Orange Bowl, helping keep the luster on Saturday's meeting.

Beitia, meanwhile, understands the fuss surrounding kickers. There's no denying his talent or courage. Beitia, the team's leading scorer the past two seasons, refuses to run and hide from last year's miss at UM.

"I don't live scared, I don't play scared," said Beitia, who met the media last Thursday.

"So when I get on that field, I'm not going to be scared. I won't say, ‘Gosh, if I miss it again, people are going to run me out of school.' I'm not like that. When I go on that field, my whole mindset is that ball going through the uprights, and that's it. I feel like I'm on that field because I'm the best person to be on the field at that certain time. I don't think like that. I don't think about missing. If I miss it four times in a row, I'll go out for the fifth one. That's just the way I am."

After late-season struggles last season and an inconsistent start this year due to special-team changes, Beitia says he's found his kicking rhythm. He enjoyed a career effort against Colorado on Sept. 20, nailing field goals of 20, 26 27 and 29 yards against the Buffs.

And, for what it's worth, FSU coach Bobby Bowden and players such as Darnell Dockett say they will take Beitia again under the same conditions against the Hurricanes.

Beitia appreciates the support.

"It's amazing," Beitia said.

"I've got to say, the first time I ever really noticed that was last year, after the Miami game, when I went into the locker room and kind of expected everybody to be mad, and that's exactly what they told me after the game last year, and ever since then, it's kind of been nice to know that they think that highly of me, to put me on the line in a situation like that.

"You can look at them, and they can trust you in a situation like that, and they don't think of you as just some guy who messes around, and they're afraid to put you on the line. It's nice to know. Guys like that especially, that you know are going to the NFL and stuff, that are big-time guys, that you know that they just don't look down on the kicker."

Beitia believes last year's UM game was a life lesson that has helped in his development.

"It's made me a better teammate, and more importantly, a better person," Beitia said.

"I don't know about a better player. Before that, I pretty much thought I was invincible when I was on that field. Now it's not that I don't think that I'm invincible, but I've realized that anything can happen, and you never know what's going to happen. You can't ever predict what's going to happen, because there's so many variables that go into a kick."


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