Utah football coaches giving their kicking core absolute freedom
When presented with the three options to lead, follow or get out of the way, Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham has elected to get out of his special teams way.
The Utes seemed to have a coaching vacancy when former special teams coach Jay Hill took over the head coaching duties at Weber State, but Whittingham decided his kicking core was good enough to coach themselves.
Punter Tom Hackett and kicker Andy Phillips are both atop the watch lists for the Ray Guy and Lou Groza awards, given to the best punter and kicker respectively.
Hackett, a former Australian Rules Football player, was discovered by Hill on YouTube and finished first in the Pac-12 last season in punt yards average, punts inside the 20, 50 yard punts and his season high 70-yarder was also the league high.
Phillips walked-on last season as a 25-year-old freshman and captured the starting kicker role immediately. He came to Utah with no football experience, only five years of downhill alpine skiing before he made the squad. Phillips made his first 12 field goal attempts and finished the season going 17 for 20 while not missing one of his 41 PATs.