It could come this week, or maybe next week. It might have to wait until the week after that.
Maybe it will come in the form of five field goals and eight extra points. Or perhaps it will be six field goals and five extra points.
Working on an accelerated master’s degree in business administration, Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis can probably explain all of the variations on the formula for how he could become the Cats’ all-time leading scorer.
No matter how it comes, it’s coming fast. The senior needs just 23 more points to achieve the feat. He’s at No. 2 in scoring behind Lones Seiber, who scored 305 career points from 2006 through 2009.
MacGinnis was aware of the numbers in August just before the season started.
“I know I’m close, but I don’t think about it a lot,” he said. “I just want to have a good senior year for the team and for myself and try to go to the NFL.”
And forgive MacGinnis if he’s not paying too much attention. To finish his master’s degree at Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics, he is taking 19 credit hours during the football season.
He’ll finish up in May by taking 22 credit hours in the spring.
“It will be tough, but I’ll get through it,” MacGinnis said. “Just take it one day at a time and go from there.”
MacGinnis sounds steady because he is steady, hitting six of his seven field goal tries already this season (85.7 percent), second-best in the Southeastern Conference, while making all eight extra points he has attempted and 39 in a row dating to last year.
In his four-year career, MacGinnis has made 56 of 70 field-goal attempts (80 percent), with four of those misses coming while he battled a lingering groin strain his sophomore season. He needs just one more made field goal to tie Joey Worley’s 30-year-old record for career makes at UK.
Perhaps none of MacGinnis’ kicks are more memorable than the two game winners he hit in 2016, first to top Mississippi State and then to help upset Louisville to close out the season.
He has become clutch for the Cats.
“He has a strong leg, he’s been very accurate, but when the game’s been on the line, he’s been effective and efficient and putting them through,” Kentucky’s Mark Stoops said on one of his recent call-in shows. “That’s what you’re looking for. He’s very strong and I do think he has an opportunity to play in the NFL. I think he has a very strong leg.”
MacGinnis hasn’t had to show his leg strength as much this season. The longest kick he’s attempted (and made) was from 44 yards out, but Stoops said on Monday that the kicker’s range is well beyond the 54-yarder he had his freshman season that broke a UK record.
A healthy season in 2016 and a full offseason of work boosted MacGinnis’ confidence even more from long range.
“I feel real comfortable 55 (yards) and in at any point in time,” he said. “That’s a big difference from last year to this year. I was coming off the injury last year, so I didn’t have as much time to fine-tune things. But I’ve been healthy ever since then.”
When asked by a caller on his radio show about MacGinnis’ range in a game-winning situation this season, Stoops didn’t hesitate.
“For a game-winner, I’d be comfortable probably — depending on the wind — if we had to go 57, 58 (yards) maybe,” Stoops said. “I’ve seen him kick 60 in practice.
“He was really good this past Saturday in pregame.”
MacGinnis was good in the game itself, too, with scripted, controlled kickoffs while also scoring all of Kentucky’s points in the second half against South Carolina, making all three field goals he tried.
The Gamecocks’ kickers went 0-for-3.
UK’s senior kicker likely will get his chances this weekend against Florida, too.
Scoring just five total touchdowns against the Gators’ stout defense, both UF opponents this season have had to settle instead for five or more field goal attempts apiece.
And while UK would like to score touchdowns, the Cats like their chances if they have to line up for three points instead.
“He’s been resilient; he’s been consistent,” Stoops said of his senior kicker from Wedowee, Ala. “If he’s made any mistake or been off, or done anything, he’s bounced right back and delivered the next time.
“I have a lot of respect for Austin. He’s a tough guy and he’s been great under pressure.”
No. 20 Florida at Kentucky
7:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
MacGinnis field goals by distance