Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beitia Can't Look Back; Junior Puts Miami Miss Behind Him

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beitia Can't Look Back; Junior Puts Miami Miss Behind Him

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Thomas, Times-Union sports writer

TALLAHASSEE -- Reporting to Florida State's preseason practice 32 pounds lighter than he was in May, junior kicker Xavier Beitia is in the best shape of his life.

A routine of biking and running helped him shed pounds and regain leg quickness. It remains to be seen whether it will be the cure to a season-ending slump that began when he missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt on the final play of a 28-27 loss at Miami.

Carrying the burden of that miss through the remainder of the season, Beitia missed six of his final 12 field-goal attempts. It was hardly the performance anyone had come to expect from the Tampa native, who converted 26-of-29 field-goal attempts in almost 20 games.

Most everyone agrees Beitia is kicking the ball farther than ever. But the best way to distance himself from his "Wide Left" miss at the Orange Bowl is to get back on the roll he enjoyed early in his FSU career.

"That's such a big deal, and I don't dwell on last year or anything," Beitia said. "It's not like I came in here and [made] 50 percent my freshman year and there was only a way to go up. I went 94 percent my freshman year, and that's how I expected every year to be."

Through two kicking scrimmages -- as he breaks in new holder Joey Kaliekini -- he is just 6 of 12 on field-goal attempts. That includes a 3-for-6 effort yesterday morning when he was 2 for 3 from 38 yards and 1 for 3 from 47 yards. Two of the misses were wide left.

Those practice misses aren't something Beitia accepts easily.

"It's like Michael Jordan going five games not hitting a field goal," he said. "I'm not used to coming out here and doing something like that."

FSU coach Bobby Bowden isn't overly concerned about Beitia's accuracy at this point.

"That's just something he's got to work out," Bowden said. "From now on, we'll probably do more work live. He's probably not getting enough of it."

Beitia couldn't agree more. While long snapper Brian Sawyer is back as a fourth-year starter, the addition of Kaliekini requires additional work to get in sync.

"One guy has changed, but it's a timing thing," Beitia said. "I used to come out here and expect perfection. I want perfection now, but I know it's going to take time and I'm not really worried about it."

His body language, however, suggests there's a hint of frustration creeping into his thought process with the Aug. 30 opener at North Carolina quickly approaching.

"It's such a trust thing," Beitia said. "When I'm back there, I trust that Brian is going to get a perfect snap and Joey is going to get a perfect hold, and all I have to do is worry about when I'm ready to kick it, that it's going to be down.

"That trust kind of comes over repetition and doing well in these scrimmages. …

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