Arizona State senior Jesse Ainsworth was at University of Phoenix Stadium when Neil Rackers missed the would-be game-winning field goal in the Cardinals’ Monday night loss to the Bears.
As a fellow kicker, Ainsworth felt Rackers’ pain. “I definitely feel sympathy for him, but I have confidence in him,” Ainsworth said. “He’s a pro for a reason.”
Just as Ainsworth remains confident in Rackers, ASU coach Dirk Koetter has remained confident in Ainsworth despite a lack of accuracy on long tries. Ainsworth has not made a field goal from 40 yards or more since connecting on a 45-yarder against Oregon State on Sept. 25, 2004. He has missed his last 12 attempts from that range, including a 49-yard attempt against Southern California.
“It was just one kick. It felt good when I hit it and when I watched the film mechanically I thought I hit the ball well. I just pushed it a little bit right,” Ainsworth said. “I’m not worried about it. I’m excited for the next kick though.”
Ainsworth is 3-for-3 inside 40 yards this season and 0-for-3 from beyond 40.
In his career, Ainsworth has hit 34-of-37 (91.9 percent) attempts inside 40 yards but is only 6-for-23 (26.1 percent) from 40 yards or more. Ainsworth has the power for long attempts but hasn’t shown the accuracy in games.
“I've sung Jesse's praises because I've seen him do it, time and again in practice,” Koetter said. “Going back to the Sun Bowl, Jesse was drilling them from 50 and 55 yards. Then, we got to the game, and he missed them. I got asked why we kept trying him. We kept trying him because he was making them in practice.”
BURGESS TO START ON D
On his weekly radio show Thursday night, Koetter said junior wide receiver Rudy Burgess will start and split time with Keno Walter-White at the cornerback position opposite Justin Tryon this Saturday.
Chris Baloney has manned the position, but he’s suffering from tendinitis in his knee and soreness in his quadriceps. Said Koetter, “his injury is more serious than we first thought. In fact, it might be a season-ending injury, but we don’t know that yet.”
Burgess will not be available on offense this week, but he will continue to take on his usual workload on special teams.
RECEIVERS STEP UP
Asked if any of his receivers have stepped up their games in practice this week, quarterback Rudy Carpenter singled out sophomore Nate Kimbrough and redshirt freshman Chris McGaha.
Carpenter on Monday said seniors Terry Richardson and Jamaal Lewis had “to start preparing better in practice.”