Teams lean on kickers and punters to bail them out when the offense falls short of a touchdown. For the most part, Florida State’s specialists have delivered in 2019.
That wasn’t the case with place-kicker Ricky Aguayo on Saturday.
The senior missed three field-goal attempts in FSU’s 35-24 win over Louisville. While none were ultimately costly in the big picture of wining and losing, Aguayo’s misses were noticeable as the Seminoles had taken a 21-0 lead and were trying to put away Louisville.
Aguayo missed field-goal attempts from 51 and 47 in the second quarter and then a third from 41 yards in the third quarter. While those are not easy kicks by any stretch, and wind on the field was likely a factor, Aguayo’s misses not only left points on the table but prevented the Seminoles from maintaining the lead and being able to pull away.
“Just talk about him kicking it through the upright, through the middle, not to the left or the right of it,” FSU coach Willie Taggart said. “Just kicking it down the middle. He’s done a good job of that until last week. So continue what you were doing until last week. … We all lock in and stay focused on our job. You can’t take time off. You can’t take a day off.”
If Aguayo makes one or two of the field-goal attempts, it likely allows Florida State to keep the momentum built by Seminoles drives in the second and third quarters. FSU was able to construct drives deep into Louisville’s end but wasn’t able to come away with any points.
“We can’t leave nine points out on the football field,” Taggart said. “So he understands that, and he’s going to work hard, and I expect for him to be better.”
Taggart mentioned after Saturday’s game he would have an open kicking competition for the opportunity to start against NC State on Saturday. Aguayo has been FSU’s kicker for three-plus years and had been 3 for 3 going into the Louisville game.
But the misses have opened the door for potential options. Taggart could choose to go with sophomore walk-on Parker Grothaus, who has handled kickoffs the last few games, or true freshman Ryan Fitzgerald. Or he could stick with Aguayo.
“I know Parker and Fitzgerald and those guys do a good job of making him compete,” Taggart said. “He was pretty good yesterday (Sunday) in practice. He was pretty good when everybody else was watching too to see how it goes. That’s what it’s going to take. Ricky understands that we need him to be better. He’s got to make those.”
While Logan Tyler has been suspended indefinitely, Tommy Martin has filled in and averaged 42.7 yards per punt. Grothaus is averaging 63.2 yards per kickoff, with 11 of 17 being touchbacks.