BOULDER, Colo. - It is the rare college football game in which a team has the opportunity to gain more exposure for its kicker. However, that is what Arizona State can provide Jesse Ainsworth with today, as the opponent dictates that a fair share of attention will be put on the kicking game.
Colorado boasts perhaps the nation’s top kicker in senior Mason Crosby, who kicked 21 field goals last year, including five from beyond 50 yards. While Crosby’s prowess will no doubt be documented during the national telecast on TBS, Ainsworth will also get to showcase his skills.
“I think this is a matchup of two of the best kickers in the country,” ASU coach Dirk Koetter said. I would place Jesse in the top realm of kickers as well. . . . I’m very confident in Jesse up to 55 yards; he makes them in practice consistently. Crosby does the same for them.”
Asked if he buys the theory that the thin mountain air enables kicked balls to travel farther, Koetter said, “Absolutely. At high altitudes and in domes, you can see the difference.”
Crosby, a senior whose career-long field goal is 60 yards, does not need to be a mile high to kick it far. His 58-yarder at Miami last year is the longest in Division I-A history at sea level and without a tee.
Last week against Colorado State, he made one from 61 yards, but the Rams called timeout before the snap. On his next try, he had the distance but was wide left.
Crosby has made 2 of 4 field-goal attempts this season, with both misses beyond 60 yards.
“I always want to be perfect inside of 50 yards,” Crosby told the Boulder Daily Camera. “Those long ones, if I’m going to have to kick a lot of them, that kind of comes with the territory. But I have to make some of them.”
Ainsworth does not receive nationwide attention, primarily because the senior has not attempted many field goals.
After going 9-of-11 last year, Ainsworth has made one field goal in 2006 and had another attempt blocked. He has made 109 straight extra points, a school record, and his kickoffs reach the end zone more often than not.
“I’d like Jesse to get more attention,” Koetter said. “But in a way, it’s good that he’s not, because that means we’re scoring touchdowns and not field goals. . . . If we need Jesse to step up and make a big kick, I’m confident that he will make it.”