Football

Texas-USC notebook: Freshman Cameron Dicker gave Horns a leg up on Trojans

Posted September 16th, 2018

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It took three games, but Texas freshman kicker Cameron Dicker finally got to show what his right leg can do for the Longhorns.

Dicker booted three field goal in Saturday’s 37-14 win over USC. He was perfect on his attempts, including two from 46 yards out. He also nailed four extra-point kicks. He nearly outscored the Trojans by himself.

Dicker, who was one of the nation’s top kicking prospects in the 2018 recruiting class, hit 32 field goals in his three varsity seasons at Lake Travis. And one of those was a 48-yarder in a playoff game that was played at Royal-Memorial Stadium; last year’s UT kicker, Joshua Rowland, had a long field goal of 40 yards at DKR.

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“When you play for Lake Travis, you’re going to be in some pressure-packed, big games,” UT coach Tom Herman said. “We knew he had that in him.”

Texas has long been searching for consistency in its kicking game. Longhorns kickers failed on 18 of 62 field goal attempts — and one key extra point — during Charlie Strong’s three-year tenure, and misses doomed Texas in close losses to Kansas State, West Virginia and Kansas during the 2016 season. Last year, Rowland and Mitchell Becker combined to go 11 of 19.

Dicker had attempted only extra-points in UT’s first two games. After Texas failed to convert a third-and-goal from USC’s 3-yard line in the opening quarter, Dicker hit a 20-yarder for the first field goal of his college career. And he was twice good from 46 yards out in the second quarter, the second 46-yarder coming on the final play before the half. That kick gave Texas a 16-14 lead, its first lead of the evening.

With his strong performance, Dicker won his one-on-one battle with USC’s Chase McGrath. Only two FBS-level kickers entered this week with more field goals than McGrath, who had kicked six in the first two games. McGrath’s only field-goal attempt — a 50-yarder in the third quarter — was blocked by Caden Sterns and returned by Anthony Wheeler for a touchdown.

Ejections and injuries: Both Texas and USC had a player ejected in the second half for a targeting penalty.  Trojans linebacker Porter Gustin, who finished with two sacks, will have to sit out the first half of next week’s game against Washington State after a helmet-separating hit on quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Texas safety B.J. Foster was penalized for a fourth-quarter targeting call on Trojans receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown; Foster will be ineligible for the first half of the TCU game.

In UT’s last six games, four Longhorns have been ejected for targeting.

Foster wasn’t the only Longhorn who missed the end of the game. Linebacker Malcolm Roach injured his foot and left the field on crutches. Cornerback Davante Davis (cramps) and receiver Brennan Eagles (hamstring) also ended up on the post-game injury report.

Texas governor Greg Abbott and actor Matthew McConaughey wait for the coin flip before a football game against USC at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Sept. 15, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Record crowd: The announced crowd of 103,507 was a school record for Texas. That beat the 102,315 figure from UT’s double-overtime win over Notre Dame in 2016.

Among those in attendance were Texas governor Greg Abbott, actor Matthew McConaughey, recent UT standouts Mo Bamba and Kody Clemens, Roger Clemens and online sensation Mason Ramsey. Former Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson, whose Cincinnati Bengals played on Thursday night, also returned to Royal-Memorial Stadium.

No touches for Toneil: With freshman Keaontay Ingram sidelined by a knee injury, Texas split its 30 running back carries between Tre Watson (18) and Daniel Young (12). Sophomore Toneil Carter did not play for a third straight week.

Following last week’s 28-21 win over Tulsa, Carter tweeted that “Frustration really setting in. God take the wheel.” The tweet was later deleted. Carter touched the ball 59 times during a freshman year that was cut short by a bowl suspension.

Carter was the first Longhorn off the field after “The Eyes of Texas” was sung. Earlier in the week, offensive coordinator Tim Beck said he understood the running back’s frustrations. Texas has seven scholarship running backs on its roster.

“Every guy on our team wants to play and he was a guy that helped and contributed last year, but there’s going to come a time we’re going to need him and count on him,” Beck said. “He’s got to continue to be ready and keep practicing hard. He does a lot of good things — he does, but again we play one running back at this point, so it’s hard to get them all the football and keep them (all) happy.”

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