Doing Just Fine

An upbeat Xavier Beitia talked with the media following Florida State's Wednesday practice. Beitia, who missed the game-winning kick at Miami last Saturday, is determined to be stronger and better from the experience. "I didn't do anything mechanically unsound. When I kicked it, I thought it was good. It just wasn't meant to be," the X-man said.

Don't worry about Florida State kicker Xavier Beitia. He's doing just fine.

Beitia, who was wide left on a 43-yard field-goal attempt for the victory against top-ranked Miami last Saturday, talked to the media for the first time Wednesday. Beitia was in tears following the game and issued a statement through FSU's sports information office as the Hurricanes escaped with a 28-27 victory.

It marked the fourth time since 1991 FSU had missed a game-winning kick against UM.

"Everybody's been great, telling (me) like, 'If we had to do it 10 times over again, we'd put you in all 10. It wasn't your fault,' " Beitia said. ""I've gotten thousands of e-mails. Every once in a while I run (into) one that (says), 'Nice kick, choker.' Other than that, everything's been great."

Beitia, a sophmore from Tampa Jesuit High School, had made 24 of 27 field-goal attempts in his career, including two 40-plus yarders earlier Saturday against Miami, before the dramatic miss. While coach Bobby Bowden and teammates quickly came to his defense, a shattered Beitia admitted he didn't want to hear any words of encouragement following the game.

"To be truly honest, at that moment there wasn't really anything anybody could tell me," Beitia said. " I felt like it was my fault. I wanted the situation. I felt like I let the team down; I let the seniors down."

Coaches and players alike said an important piece to the puzzle will be to make sure that Beitia recovers from his last-second miss. Failed kicks greatly affected the three former FSU kickers who suffered game-deciding misses against Miami. Gerry Thomas (1991) and Matt Munyon (2000) never kicked another field goal for the Seminoles. Dan Mowrey (1992) was never the same kicker.

Beitia said he received a telephone call from Munyon and countless others, in addition to FSU's Director of Athletics Dave Hart. Beitia said people have been telling him "I'll be so much better because of it." Munyon also offered words that struck a chord with Beitia. "The challenge, you thought, was making the kick, but the real challenge is how I'm going to deal with all of this," Beitia said.

Beitia said he's determined to deal with it and learn from the experience.

"No matter if I make 15 game-winners, 2002 Miami will always be there," Beitia said. "I can't dwell on that. It was a missed kick. ... If I would have got really nervous, then I could be like, 'I let the moment get to me.' There's nothing I can do. It was just my turn to miss. I can't have flashbacks. I've got to be stronger than I was before."

While the snap and hold weren't perfect, Beitia didn't make any excuses. In fact, he initially thought the kick was good.

"I've seen that kick in my head so many times," Beitia said. ""I take every miss harsh. When I missed (in) the Virginia game, my goal for the season was to go perfect. ... As far as kicking-wise, there's nothing I could really learn from the situation, because I wasn't nervous and stuff. I didn't do anything mechanically unsound. When I kicked it, I thought it was good. It just wasn't meant to be."

Beitia, however, did admit to forgetting one important step in his preparation as he watched the replay of his kick.

"My first reaction was I didn't make the sign of the cross," he said. "I usually always make the sign of the cross. I'm spiritual. It's just funny that there was no wind when I kicked it and then somehow this mysterious wind came. ... I didn't hit it bad or anything."

Beitia did not return with the team to Tallahassee following the game. He jumped in a car with his sister and brother-in-law and made a quick stop at his home in Tampa before heading back to FSU. Beitia said the ride did wonders for his wounded psych.

"It just makes you realize it's just a game," he said. "There will be opportunities in the future. It was the quickest ride home ever because we talked a lot."


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