Adam Crossett took a minute to bask in the limelight.
He had, after all, just completed a nearly flawless game. Missouri’s sophomore place-kicker hit all three of his field-goal attempts, a feat not equaled at the school since September 2002, and all five of his extra points in the Tigers’ 52-21 win against Troy on Saturday at Faurot Field.
“It’s definitely something that a lot of people in the media maybe didn’t see happening this year,” Crossett said.
Crossett was also named the Tigers’ first-string punter before the game and he responded with five punts for a 39-yard average. That’s nine yards better than previous punter Matt Hoenes could manage on his five punts this season.
The sophomore landed his first two punts inside Troy’s 20-yard line, something Hoenes couldn’t do in Missouri’s first two games. His third was a 46-yarder, which tied the Tigers’ season long.
“I think Adam did a heck of a job,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “ I think he was close to a 39-yard average, first time. Not bad.”
Crossett, despite his apparent satisfaction and the glowing words from his coach, said he can do better.
“I don’t know, punting, I didn’t really punt that well, even by my standards,” he said.
On field goals, Crossett was lights-out. He was good from 22-, 42- and 34-yards out, nearly hitting the center of the goalposts each time.
“I’ll tell you, it’s nice to have a guy like that field goal-wise,” Pinkel said. “You can leave it on the 25-, 28-, 30-yard line and have a guy who has a high percentage of making it and coming off the field with points.”
It hasn’t always been that way for Missouri, which was 11-for-19 on field goals last year and has often struggled in its kicking game.
“A couple of years ago, maybe it didn’t feel like (we could have confidence in a kicker),” sophomore tight end Martin Rucker said. “But it was great that Crossett came out and made some kicks.”
Crossett said he hasn’t always been so accurate.
“I couldn’t hit anything when I got here,” he said. “I was pretty decent in high school, the whole summer I’d been doing well and then I got here, and for some reason couldn’t put it together.”
Now Crossett is Mr. Everything for the Tigers’ kicking game. He kicks off in addition to his other duties. In Saturday’s high-scoring game, he made kicks on 23 different plays.
His only hiccups were a kickoff that went out of bounds and a missed an extra point attempt where he was given another chance when Troy was called for having 12 players on the field.
“He does a lot out there for us, but he’s got to maintain his focus,” Pinkel said.
Crossett took over place-kicking for Joe Tantarelli with three games left last season and punting from Hoenes for the last two. He finished 1-for-3 in field goals on the year, missing both attempts from more than 40 yards. This year, he is 6-for-7 overall, 3-for-4 from more than 40 yards.
After Saturday’s game, with the slightest smile on his face, Crossett took a minute to reflect.
“I think I’ve matured a lot in the past year,” Crossett said. “I know it’s only my third year, but you’d be amazed at how far I’ve come.
“I feel like I’m back into a rhythm and back on track. We’ll try to keep it going.”