Florida State Seminoles: Eddie Gran

2013 spring preview: Special teams

February, 15, 2013
From the impending quarterback competition to finding replacements for departing juniors, Jimbo Fisher will have his work cut out for him during the next few months as he lays the groundwork for the 2013 season.

With that in mind, we're going to go position by position, looking at Florida State's strengths and weaknesses as the Seminoles prepare for spring practice.

Previously: Cornerbacks, wide receivers/tight ends, defensive tackles, and running backs can be found HERE.

Next up: Special teams

2012 recap: Special teams is a pretty broad term, so it's tough to look back on last season and call it a success or a failure for Florida State when, the truth is, it was a little of both. On the plus side, kicker Dustin Hopkins turned in the best season of his remarkable career, setting the NCAA scoring mark for kickers in the process. Lamarcus Joyner and Karlos Williams both were exceptional on kick returns once again, and FSU even accounted for three punt-return touchdowns in its first season without Greg Reid. Of course, the flip side of that was the significant struggles by freshman punter Cason Beatty, including a block against NC State that likely cost FSU the game, a bevy of turnovers on punt returns that resulted in a revolving door at the position, and a truly ridiculous number of special teams penalties (with Williams responsible for a season's worth by himself).

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Green gives his return a thumbs-up 

January, 10, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For the second year in a row, Florida State had a commitment in the Under Armour All-America Game who returned to the field after a lengthy time away for one reason or another.

Last year it was defensive end Chris Casher. Because of rules in the state of Alabama, and the fact that he transferred, he was ineligible to play his senior season.

Fast forward to this year, and it was running back Ryan Green (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg Catholic) who was finally able to get back at it.

Green waiting on new RB coach at FSU 

December, 30, 2012
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ryan Green's (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg Catholic) season came to an end prematurely due to an AC joint injury in his shoulder in early September.

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ESPN 300 ATH Baker decommits from FSU 

December, 17, 2012
ESPN 300 athlete Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) confirmed Monday morning via text message he has decommitted from Florida State.

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ATH Baker excited for Clemson, OU visits 

December, 7, 2012
ESPN 300 athlete Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) hasn’t decommitted from Florida State, but he’s looking around.

Baker, who is 6-foot-1 and 165 pounds, is ranked No. 198 in the ESPN 300 and went through the ringer this week.

Adrian Baker
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comThe Sooners view four-star prospect Adrian Baker as an athlete who could play offense in college.
FSU assistant Eddie Gran was the first to visit Baker on Tuesday. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables followed Wednesday afternoon, while Oklahoma defensive backs coach Mike Stoops closed the show Wednesday night.

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Franklin hoping to make weekend visit 

November, 20, 2012
If all the logistics work out, Florida State commitment John Franklin (Plantation, Fla./South Plantation) will be on an official visit this weekend.

But those plans aren't exactly firmly in place yet. If they do fall through, his trip will be delayed by a month or so.

"We are waiting to see if there is an open hotel room," Franklin said. "If there isn't one, I will probably just wait until January or December.

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Shoe on the other foot for Baker 

October, 25, 2012
Adrian BakerCorey Long/ESPN.comFSU commit Adrian Baker, a lifelong Miami (Fla) fan, found himself at Sun Life Stadium rooting against his childhood team for the first time.
For as long as he can remember, Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) cheered for the Miami Hurricanes. Especially when Florida State was their opponent.

But times have changed. The ESPN 300 athlete is now firmly committed to the Seminoles and his allegiance lies in Tallahassee.

So while being inside Sun Life Stadium last Saturday pulling for the road team was a little out of the ordinary for Baker, it eventually grew on him.

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FSU special teams do damage to Wake

September, 15, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- As if facing one of the toughest defenses in the country on the road wasn't enough, Wake Forest was handed an average starting field position at its own 19-yard line.

The result were disastrous.

The Demon Deacons accumulated just seven first downs and 126 yards of total offense. They gained 2.1 yards per snap.

[+] EnlargeRashad Greene
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesRashad Greene had a 60-yard punt return for a score against Wake Forest.
It was mission impossible.

"When you have a kicker as talented as Dustin [Hopkins] is to adjust those kicks for him to be doing what he is doing, and then to be as athletic as we are -- I know as a play-caller, when you start inside the 20-yard line, you call them different," Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "You have to. Mistakes can get you killed.

"For us to do that and have a defense that can stop people, it is points. You control the field position. It makes it a big advantage.”

And Hopkins and the rest of kickoff team mean business.

There are no freshmen on the unit. It is a group of starters or key contributors with two key attributes in common -- speed and the willingness to deliver a knockout blow.

The kicker has one goal: get the ball high into the air. The rest takes care of itself.

"If I get anything close to a four-second hang time, our guys are going to get them at the 15, 18, right around there," he said. "It is a huge field position thing. It adds up. That hidden yardage, it adds up.

It worked on Saturday just as it had so far this season. Every time a Deacons returner fielded a return, he failed to reach the 20. The other times the ball sailed deep into the end zone for a touchback.

And the two touchbacks out of Hopkins' nine attempts were a blessing for those dressed in black and white on Saturday.

"I don't know if you all watch kickoff, but someone's helmet comes off at least one time on kickoff," said senior fullback Lonnie Pryor.

It wasn’t just the kickoff team that did damage for the Seminoles.

Rashad Greene returned his second punt for a touchdown in three games to give Florida State a 14-0 lead and the visitors all kinds of doubt.

And to round out the day, the punt team did pretty well too.

True freshman punter Cason Beatty had four attempts, three of which were downed inside the opponent's 20 and the other was a touchback giving Wake Forest exactly zero return yards.

When Clemson comes to town next weekend, the Seminoles will need to win the special teams battle once more. If they do, it will give them a huge leg up in the ACC Atlantic race.

If not, the challenge of containing Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and the Tigers will become all the more difficult.


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