The word “or,” which denotes co-starters, no longer appears between junior kickers Trent Domingue and Colby Delahoussaye on LSU’s depth chart.
Through three games, Domingue has attempted and converted every field goal and extra point for the Tigers. He beat out Delahoussaye during preseason camp and is now the starter in everyone’s mind — well, except his own.
“Every week is a competition. That’s how I do it,” Domingue said. “I can’t really get comfortable like that. Whether it was me or Colby, it’s always a competition. That’s how I try to look at it.”
Domingue, who also handles kickoff duties, is 3-for-3 on field goals this season but hasn’t attempted one longer than 37 yards. After Delahoussaye missed three straight kicks late in 2014, Domingue got his chance.
He made 2-of-3 field goals against Texas A&M in the regular season finale, and the pair of kickers entered the offseason locked in a battle for the starting job. Domingue insists that’s still the case despite receiving all the playing time for the No.9 Tigers (3-0). The junior said he, Delahoussaye and sophomore Cameron Gamble alternate reps at practice.
For his efforts during the spring and summer, LSU coach Les Miles awarded Domingue, a former walk-on from Mandeville with a scholarship. Just before the season started, assistant athletic director for football operations Sam Nader told Domingue to pay a visit to Miles’ office following a team meeting.
He had a hunch about why the coach wanted to see him.
“I kind of had the feeling that it was a scholarship. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much, but I kind of knew it was,” Domingue said. “I went in there and signed the paper. It felt really good. I know I don’t have to worry about the money aspect of everything. Now that I get a little extra cushion, it’s a little easier to live.”
Lewis Neal got away with it once.
His helmet popped off during a play in the win against Auburn. The LSU defensive end slipped it back on quick enough that the referee never saw, and he continued to chase a ball-carrier.
He wasn’t so lucky last week against Syracuse. Officials flagged Neal for continuing to play without a helmet during a play in the third quarter of the Tigers’ 34-24 win over the Orange. The personal foul cost LSU 15 yards and a big defensive play. Neal, after losing his helmet, shoved Syracuse quarterback Zack Mahoney out of bounds for what would have been a sack.
“Should have stopped,” Neal said. “Lesson learned.”
A player whose helmet has been knocked off during a play must not continue playing. It’s a safety-centric ruling the NCAA instituted in 2012. Neal disagrees with it.
“I can see them stopping the play and just letting me off the field and put somebody else on the field,” he said. “That’s my honest opinion about it. They should just stop the play if something happens like that if they really want to prevent somebody from doing something – stop the play. Blow the whistle dead and replay the down or instead of a 15-yard personal foul, five-yard penalty.”
Neal says he keeps his helmet tight on his head, but his sweaty scalp leads to it sliding and, sometimes, popping off.
Back to the bayou
Eastern Michigan will play a football game in Louisiana for the 10th time in program history on Saturday, and the Eagles will get paid a nice sum for it.
LSU is paying EMU $985,000 for the game.
EMU has never won on Louisiana soil, losing seven times and playing two ties.
In the Eagles’ last visit to the state, on Sept. 30, 2006, they dropped a 33-14 decision to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Facing the SEC Eastern Michigan is 0-7 all-time against Southeastern Conference opposition.
In its last game against an SEC school, EMU dropped a 65-0 decision to Florida on Sept. 6, 2014.
Wide receiver Jazz Ferguson got on the field for the first time this season in Saturday’s game with Syracuse, which pushed the total of true freshmen to play for the Tigers to 11 in the first three games.
Other freshmen to have seen the field are cornerbacks Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver II, running backs Derrius Guice and Nick Brossette, defensive end Arden Key, wide receiver Tyron Johnson, guard Maea Teuhema, tackle Toby Weathersby, tight end Foster Moreau and fullback Bry’Keithon Mouton.
Punters hurdling defenders are a rare sight at any level of football. LSU freshman cornerback Kevin Toliver happened to be on the wrong end of such a play last Saturday.
Trailing 7-3 in the final minute of the first half, Syracuse lined up for a 46-yard field goal on fourth-and-5. But the holder flipped the ball back to kicker/punter Riley Dixon, who jumped over a lunging Toliver and fell forward to pick up the first down.
Kicker Cole Murphy missed a shorter field goal later as time expired in the first half, but Dixon’s highlight had social media buzzing. Even Toliver himself tweeted a picture of the hurdle the day after the game.
“I told him to take it down honestly because he’s going to get a lot of stuff from it,” said sophomore safety Jamal Adams. “But it’s all fun and games.”