Trent Domingue lined up from the right hash marks. He took three steps back and two to the left — just as the senior kicker always does when lining up to boot the ball.
But this kick weighed heavier on Domingue’s right foot than any other he had previously attempted in a burnt orange jersey. When the ball sailed end over end through the uprights, Domingue had just nailed a 39-yard attempt to beat then-No. 8 Baylor.
He bumped fists with senior tight end Caleb Bluiett, stepped back and leaped into the air to fake a last-second jump-shot.
“As a kicker, you’re not supposed to think ‘Don’t miss,’” Domingue said. “But I was thinking, ‘Don’t miss.’ But I was confident enough in practice it made it almost easy because we do it so much.”
Unfortunately for Domingue, his heroics against the Bears don’t epitomize the rest of his season. It hasn’t come easy for the transfer from LSU, and his struggles are well documented.
His woes started with a blocked extra point against Notre Dame in the season opener. The Fighting Irish returned the block for two points, ultimately sending the game to overtime.
He’s missed three other extra points this season — all in the same contest. Oklahoma State blocked three point after attempts on Oct. 1, and the Cowboys returned one of them to the house for two points, too.
This past weekend against West Virginia, Domingue had another field goal blocked. Through all his troubles, senior offensive lineman Connor Williams said Domingue isn’t doubting himself.
“I mean, that’s his job,” Williams said. “That’s his job, to kick it. So I think he has confidence in what he does.”
It’d be easy for any kicker in the nation to lose trust in himself if they were to endure the type of season Domingue has. He’s only made one of four attempts from beyond 40 yards this year.
He missed a crucial attempt against Kansas State in the fourth quarter of a tight contest on the road. A true kick would have given the Longhorns enough points to force overtime as Texas went on to lose by three.
Still, his teammates have his back. Unlike Domingue, sophomore punter Michael Dickson is enjoying a favorable season booting the ball. His punting average of 47.8 yards per kick places him No. 3 in the nation in that category. Dickson said Domingue works hard and it will show during the Longhorns’ final two matchups of the season.
“He’s very calm about it,” Dickson said. “We all trust in him. He has great belief in himself… Not everyone’s perfect, and we all basically motivate each other to work hard. So he’s fine.”
Texas sits at 5–5 on the year, needing one win to become bowl eligible for the second time during the three-year Strong era. Every point matters on the Longhorns’ quest for the postseason, and they just might need another clutch kick from Domingue to get them there.
“Even through all the misses and blocks [Strong] had my back and he’s told me how confident he is in me and same with everybody else,” Domingue said. “They’ve always had confidence in me and it’s really helped me get through whatever.”