Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong can rest easily on Sunday night knowing that the months-long search for a reliable placekicker finally ended with the addition of former LSU Tigers starter Trent Domingue.
Strong and the Longhorns officially announced Domingue as the newest member of the Texas program several hours after the former LSU kicker broke the news on Twitter.
Instead of using a true freshman walk on or any one of the three kickers currently on the roster who have never attempted a field goal in college, Strong will instead be able to utilize a player who racked up 24 field goal attempts over two seasons in the high-pressure environment that is SEC football.
Domingue, a 6’2, 170-pounder who is from Louisiana, took advantage of his opportunities in 2015 in a way that former Texas kicker Nick Rose often did not during his career — by hitting consistently, including a stretch of 10 consecutive makes.
On PATs, Domingue hit his first 42 efforts and 55-of-56 attempts overall. The only time he did not connect in his LSU career was because Alabama blocked one of his attempts in 2015.
Because Rose was so inconsistent on field goals, his greatest contribution to the team in 2015 was probably his work on kickoffs, as he finished No. 3 nationally in touchback percentage at 74.6 percent and had 47 touchbacks overall.
Since Domingue has never made a kick from 50 or more yards in his college career and only had seven touchbacks in 2015, it might be reasonable to question his leg strength. However, digging a little bit deeper reveals that Domingue finished in the top 20 in touchback percentage in 2014, suggesting that the Tigers intentionally asked him to kick short in 2015 because they wanted to cover kicks instead of allowing opponents to start at the 25-yard line so often.
Considering that Rose helped contribute to the loss against Cal by missing a game-tying extra point in September and another special teams mistake by punter Michael Dickson helped cost the game against Oklahoma State, having Domingue in the program could be the difference in one or two games this season — he’s that important and the other options available are that questionable.
So look for the graduate transfer to quickly earn the starting job, much as another transfer, Anthony Fera, would have done in 2012 had he not been forced to miss the first four games with a groin injury.
In one huge move, Strong ensured that place kicker almost certainly won’t be the cause of more losses in 2015, taking a position that was a liability and turning it into a likely strength, not to mention finding a capable performer on kickoff who will ensure that there isn’t a big drop off from Nick Rose.
When combined with the four former Baylor signees, the summer has been hugely successful for Strong entering his crucial third season.
Nice job, coach.