Another week, another special teams adventure for Florida State.
In most aspects, things were relatively normal. Ricky Aguayo was two-for-two on the day, the second of which was the deciding points in the game. The sophomore’s now had four games this season with multiple field goals made, and is 14-17 on the season.
Logan Tyler had the most productive game of his career, punting a career-high nine times with a net average of 43.1 yards. Tyler put four punts inside the 20, including one on the five-yard line and one on the 10. Three of his punts went over 50 yards and six of his kickoffs were touchbacks, a season high.
“Logan had a really good day, then he missed a couple there at the end,” Jimbo Fisher said following the game. “Could have had an unbelievable day. Ricky hit the big field goals. It was good.”
The biggest change in Florida State’s special teams approach this week was the changing of guard at punt returner. Tavarus McFadden’s hesitation in catching punts and decisions in returning them finally prompted the coaching staff to make a change, and the next man up was true freshman D.J. Matthews.
Matthews received some time at returner in Florida State’s loss to Boston College last week, but on Saturday, it was fully his job.
He didn’t exactly wow in his first full day at the position, but there was a notable difference in the amount of punts caught rather than allowed to tumble farther back into negative territory.
While Matthews did had the longest punt return this season (15 yards), he also muffed a ball towards the end of the first half that, if not for a stand by FSU’s defense and mismanagement by Syracuse, could’ve resulted in points for the Orange.
Syracuse also missed two field goals, and though they weren’t blocked, Florida State’s presence on each was felt by kicker Cole Murphy. The second, which clinched the game, might’ve possibly been tipped by either Derwin James or Brian Burns. Watch the kick in slow motion, and you see the ball rotate a little differently as it passes over the line of scrimmage.
When it was all said and done, Saturday’s performance was possibly Florida State’s best showing on special teams this season. A perfect game from Ricky Aguayo, a strong showing from Logan Tyler, two missed field goals from the opponent and slightly less anxiety watching FSU return punts.