By the end of the Arizona game, Trevor Romaine realized the slate needed a good wiping.
The start of the season wasn’t too bad for Romaine, Oregon State’s sophomore place-kicker.
Although he missed from 40 yards out with 21 seconds left in the half in the Wisconsin game, he had already knocked through one from 43 and that turned out to be the difference in a big win for the Beavers.
Then he hit two short ones in the win at UCLA.
Down in Tucson was where the shakiness began to set in.
A roughing the kicker penalty on a first-quarter miss allowed the Beavers to go in for a touchdown.
“I didn’t hit the ball, I missed it and we got lucky to get the roughing the kicker,” Romaine said.
He hit a 30-yarder but missed from 35 with 11 seconds to go in the half.
Romaine was plagued by misfires last season as a freshman. He was determined to avoid a repeat.
“(Special teams coach Bruce) Read was getting upset, getting on me and I just needed to fix it,” Romaine said.
“I needed to kick like I know how to kick, how I learned how to kick.”
Romaine returned to the basics that worked so well during his career at Centennial High in Corona, Calif.
He was first-team all-state as a senior, hit a school-record 52-yard field goal and set a state record with 217 point after touchdowns.
“I got comfortable back there,” he said. “The snap, the hold, those have been getting better week in and week out and that’s helped a lot, too.”
The high school regression worked. Romaine has hit 13 of 15 field goals and leads the Pac-12 in accuracy.
He hit all three of his field goal tries and knocked four kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks at Stanford last Saturday and was named the Pac-12 special teams player of the week.
A big turnaround from last season.
Romaine struggled as a true freshman, missing seven of 22 field goal attempts.
It didn’t help that one of his earliest experiences was banging what would have been a game-winning field goal off the post in the stunning loss to Sacramento State.
The overall experience was overwhelming. Romaine was out of his comfort zone and did too much tinkering instead of moving back to the basics. He tended to aim when he tried a field goal, rather than allowing himself to go into the flow of the kick.
And there were all the distractions.
“I would let the nerves get the best of me, let the crowd get in my head,” Romaine said. “I was just more taking in the surroundings than actually focusing on making the kick.”
There were no threats or blatant hate mail, but many fans were not happy with the new kicker.
Someone did send him an encouraging email after Sac State, but Romaine had read enough on Facebook to get the drift.
“I had seen the media and people talked bad about me, but I just stay away from that and just know that I can make every kick,” he said. “Coach (Mike) Riley’s not going to put me in a spot where I’m going to miss.”
Nor was Riley going to bring in a kicker who was not capable.
In high school, Romaine showed that he was more than up to the task physically.
He had played soccer from a young age and developed a big leg from making a lot of free and corner kicks.
At OSU, he had to hone the mental aspect of kicking.
“You really have to have thick skin and just in one ear and out the other, move on to the next kick,” he said. “Don’t look back on anything and don’t make the same mistake twice.
“It really is a mind game and controlling your nerves and controlling your mind to keep yourself calm is a huge part of it.”