FSU football position preview: special teams
From his first day at Florida State, Mike Norvell has emphasized that special teams will be a strength for his team.
This was the case during its previous stop in Memphis where the Tigers had the best special teams in the country in their first season in 2016, according to the SFEI ranking.
The Tigers have finished in the top 15 among FBS programs in SFEI three times during Norvell’s four years at the top of the program.
FSU saw a similar jump in special team production in Norvell’s debut season at Tallahassee.
While the Seminoles went 3-6, they improved in the SFEI rankings from 82nd in 2019 (-0.14) to 22nd (0.35) in 2020. It was the second highest score among the teams. of the ACC behind only Syracuse after FSU was 10th out of 14 teams the year before he arrived.
With a pair of returning kickers, a returning bettor and a plethora of players able to handle return duties, the stage is set for FSU special teams production to improve even more in season two. by Norvell.
Parker Grothaus junior redshirt
Grothaus served as goalkeeper in five of FSU’s nine games last season. He made two of his three attempts in the season opener loss to Georgia Tech, but then did not attempt another field goal until the FSU’s sixth game of the season in Louisville a month and a half later. . He’s made two of his four attempts in FSU’s last four games, finishing the season with 4 of his 7 baskets (57.1%). He received a scholarship in the offseason and will once again take on the kickoff duties even though he’s not the kicker.
Freshman Ryan Fitzgerald Redshirt
Fitzgerald, from Coolidge, Ga., Was the only FSU kicker to receive a scholarship last season. He kicked the Seminoles for their second to fifth games. He scored his two goals at Notre Dame, but only scored one of three the following week against North Carolina. Like Grothaus, Fitzgerald scored 4 of his 7 baskets (57.1%) in his first season of action.
Redshirt rookie Alex Mastromanno
While a few new kickers struggled last season for the Seminoles, they definitely found their future punter at Mastromanno. The Melbourne, Australia native looked right at home playing his first season of American football. His 43.51 yards per punt as a true rookie last year was No. 33 nationally out of 88 eligible bettors and the best punt average by an FSU punter since Cason Beatty’s senior season in 2015.
Return kick / punt
FSU enters the 2021 season with plenty of options for both the punt and the kick return. Six different Seminoles kicked off last season and all six are back on this year’s squad. Wide receiver Keyshawn Helton returned five kicks on average from 26 yards, but defensive back Travis Jay was the most frequent kick returner, averaging 22.9 yards on his 10 returns.
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On the return from the punt, Helton and Jay both got reps last season. The experience was limited, however, as the Seminoles recorded eight total punt returns last year in nine games. Helton and Jay are solid options again and red shirt freshmen Ja’Khi Douglas and Corey Wren are both solid options as well as some of the team’s fastest and most explosive players.
Redshirt’s sophomore snapper Garrett Murray is back after being the Seminoles’ primary snapper on field goals and PATs in all nine games last season.
However, Grant Glennon, a Tallahassee native and junior in a red shirt, opted to be transferred to eastern Kentucky after four seasons as the Seminoles long snapper for punters.
To replace Glennon, the FSU brought in the transfer of Maryland James Rosenberry Jr., who has been the Terrapins’ long snapper on punters for the past two seasons.
It will be determined at fall camp whether Murray and Rosenberry will keep their same FSU duties this season or whether one player will take care of all the long catching duties.
Mastromanno, who has just enjoyed such a solid first season in 2020, should be a major asset for the Seminoles for years to come. Especially with the number of games played by FSU appearing to be close to paper draws, field position could be crucial for the Seminoles. If Mastromanno is able to develop further at the start of his second season, he could be an X factor in a few games this season.
Kicking on the field is clearly the weakness of the Seminoles special teams. It remains to be seen who will start the season as the starting FSU kicker, but neither did so well last season that one should feel especially confident. FSU’s 57.1% field goal percentage last season was the second-worst in the ACC and tied for 109th out of 127 FBS teams.
More overviews of FSU football positions
Contact Curt Weiler at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CurtMWeiler.
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