Florida State's punting problem

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Florida state has a problem. A punting problem.

Here is last year's punting performance with All-American Shawn Powell, courtesy CFBstats.com.

Date Opponent Surface Result Punts Yards Avg.
09/03/11 La.-Monroe Grass W 34-0 3 125 41.67
09/10/11 Charleston So. Grass W 62-10 2 89 44.50
09/17/11 16 Oklahoma Grass L 13-23 4 201 50.25
09/24/11 @ 22 Clemson Grass L 30-35 5 214 42.80
10/08/11 @ Wake Forest Turf L 30-35 3 139 46.33
10/15/11 @ Duke Grass W 41-16 2 78 39.00
10/22/11 Maryland Grass W 41-16 3 161 53.67
10/29/11 North Carolina St. Grass W 34-0 3 124 41.33
11/03/11 @ Boston College Turf W 38-7 4 196 49.00
11/12/11 Miami (Fla.) Grass W 23-19 5 274 54.80
11/19/11 Virginia Grass L 13-14 6 302 50.33
11/26/11 @ Florida Grass W 21-7 9 400 44.44
12/29/11 + Notre Dame Grass W 18-14 8 378 47.25
Totals 57 2681 47.04

That was one of the finest punting performances in the country.

And here is 2012, under new freshman punter Cason Beatty.

Date Opponent Surface Result Punts Yards Avg.
09/01/12 Murray St. Grass W 69-3 3 103 34.33
09/08/12 Savannah St. Grass W 55-0 1 46 46.00
09/15/12 Wake Forest Grass W 52-0 4 168 42.00
09/22/12 11 Clemson Grass W 49-37 3 106 35.33
09/29/12 @ South Fla. Grass W 30-17 5 152 30.40
10/06/12 @ North Carolina St. Grass L 16-17 7 247 35.29
10/13/12 Boston College Grass W 51-7 2 86 43.00
10/20/12 @ Miami (Fla.) Grass W 33-20 3 100 33.33
10/27/12 Duke Grass W 48-7 1 33 33.00
11/08/12 @ Virginia Tech Grass W 28-22 6 216 36.00
Totals 35 1257 35.91

That's a difference of more than 11 yards per punt. That might not seem like much, but against a good opponent, FSU may end up punting six or seven times. That could amount to almost 80 yards of lost field position.

Now, two punts were blocked and one of them went forward (N.C. State), which does skew the average.

Still, that's pretty bad. Only four teams nationally (of 124) average less yards per punt.

The thing is, I don't know much about punting. I'm smart enough to point out the problem, but clueless as to the solution.

I know you're not supposed to throw the ball up, but rather just drop it. Preferably straight.

And I know enough to know that this is not a coverage team issue. Florida State has freak athletes all over the field and covers both kicks and punts quite well. In fact, Florida State has allowed only 30 yards of punt returns all year.

I don't know how to get this fixed. But I do know that a very important game on the horizon could really magnify this issue: Florida.

UF has arguably the best punter in the country and a top-ten punting game by any measure.

Date Opponent Surface Result Punts Yards Avg.
09/01/12 Bowling Green Grass W 27-14 5 169 33.80
09/08/12 @ 9 Texas A&M Grass W 20-17 5 236 47.20
09/15/12 @ Tennessee Grass W 37-20 5 243 48.60
09/22/12 Kentucky Grass W 38-0 3 138 46.00
10/06/12 8 LSU Grass W 14-6 7 344 49.14
10/13/12 @ Vanderbilt Grass W 31-17 5 231 46.20
10/20/12 12 South Carolina Grass W 44-11 7 380 54.29
10/27/12 + 5 Georgia Grass L 9-17 3 140 46.67
11/03/12 Missouri Grass W 14-7 8 331 41.38
11/10/12 La.-Lafayette Grass W 27-20 8 319 39.88
Totals 56 2531 45.20

In a game that features two elite defenses and two decent (at best) offenses, punts are likely to be plentiful. It wouldn't be a surprise to see as many as 15 combined punts.

And if that happens, and if the margin continues to be more than 9 yards in Florida's favor, that is potentially a huge advantage for Florida. 14 combined punts at the current disparity (assuming Florida State actually finds someone to catch a punt), would be roughly 65 yards in Florida's favor.

A 65 yard pass is a huge play in a game. It might make Sportscenter. But 65 hidden yards won't get talked about. But it could make a big difference.

It needs to get fixed, and I'm sure Beatty will get better as his career progress he will as well (Powell's increased by three yards from 2009 to 2010 and three to 2011). But FSU needs this to improve by a decent bit in the span of about 12 days.

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