The Great Debate: Who’s the more valuable kicker – Hackett or Phillips?

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Hackett’s “triple threat” punting makes him the real MVP

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There is no doubt that Utah’s special teams unit has been strong this season. With personnel such as “Automatic” Andy Phillips and return man Kaelin Clay, fans can’t complain. The one who has outshined those two this season, however, has been punter Tom Hackett.
I think it is easy to say that Clay or Phillips have a bigger impact on the game because they are the ones who can put up points when Hackett can’t. They are also on the field more than Hackett is. But for the short time the Australian is on the field, he has a much bigger impact than either of them.
Field position is everything in football. So when you have a punter who can place the football far back and in the corner of the field, it takes a lot of pressure off the defense. The fact that he takes out the return game from opponents is another reason head coach Kyle Whittingham can breathe easy every week. His ability to consistently put the ball within 10 yards of the goal line is scary and somewhat unbelievable.
It’s not only how hard and high he can kick the ball, but how he does it. Hackett’s rugby-style punting has been nothing short of spectacular. The few steps he takes to the side before hitting the ball allows his teammates to get in better positions. The fact that he can kick the ball so it will either stop where it lands or keep rolling is an incredible skill.
Hackett didn’t have much experience with the sport, which makes him that much more valuable. The punter is still learning how to punt the ball the traditional way, making him a dual-threat punter, if that’s a thing.
Let’s take that a step further and call Hackett a triple threat. There have been times where Hackett has faked a punt, trying to get a first down and give his team momentum. So really, he can punt it normally, run to the side and punt it, or run to the side and go for the first down. Pick your poison.
I am not trying to take anything away from Phillips. He is an amazing kicker and a freak of nature in the sports world. I just believe Hackett makes the most of the short time he has on the field.
The position of punter is slightly underrated, if you ask me. I challenge anyone to try and get close to the power and placement Hackett achieves. People will fast learn the difficulty and find respect for the position. It’s like if LeBron James only took four or five shots a game, but still was the league MVP. That’s what Hackett has done for Utah at his position.
The special teams unit as a whole is impressive. But there can only be one MVP of the group, and that’s Hackett. Hell, he might even be the MVP of the entire Utah team because I’m not sure the Utes would have the chance to go to a bowl game if not for the punter from down under.
 
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 Phillips’ point-scoring ability makes him most valuable kicker

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Brock Jensen – Staff Writer

The kicking game for Utah has been one of the most exciting elements of the team to watch this season. Contributing to all this enjoyment are kicker Andy Phillips and punter Tom Hackett. While Hackett has been an integral part of the success of the special teams, I believe Phillips is the most important kicker on the Utes’ roster.
Phillips’ stats entering the last game of the regular season are solid — he’s hit 20 of 24 field goals and is perfect on PATs. He’s also a near perfect 9 of 10 on field goals inside of 40 yards and made both of his two attempts from 50+ yards.
Phillips ranks 5th among kickers in D-I and 1st in the Pac-12 for total field goals made.
These are great numbers for a kicker on any team, but it’s what lies behind the numbers that makes Phillips so important to Utah.
Phillips scores points and, as the great John Madden once said, “You can’t win a game if you don’t score any points.”
The Ute offense has been inconsistent, if not terrible, this season. Phillips has been called upon time and time again to bail Utah out. Phillips has shown that if his team can just get into field goal range, then he will make sure the Utes get points.
Even though an offense may have failed to get into the end zone, getting at least three points out of a drive is so much better than not getting any. With all the close games the Utes have been in, Phillips’ leg has been key to providing Utah with victories.
Phillips has given Utah the reliability and consistency they have needed to stay competitive in each of their games. And, just like Madden talked about, scoring points to win games. The best example of Phillips’ importance came in the game against UCLA. The Utah kicker went 3-for-3 in that game, including a 29-yard kick to gave the Utes a lead in the final minute of regulation. Clutch.
Phillips has been a stud for the team this year and has been a reliable source of scoring points. On the flip side, Hackett has had a season unlike any other punter I’ve ever seen. With Hackett, punting has become one of the most exciting parts of the game. Wait, did I really just say that?
Yes, Hackett continuously pins teams deep on their side of the field, and it’s a tremendous asset for a team to have, but having a talented placekicker like Phillips is what puts points on the board. After all, how many points has Hackett scored for Utah? The reliability of the leg of Phillips is what has meant the most for Utah this season, and it will continue to mean the most going forward.
 
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