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Utah Football's Perfect Combination: Tom Hackett and Andy Phillips

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

When you think of dynamic duos in college football, it's usually a quarterback and wide receiver or running back; or maybe a pair of great corners or linebackers. Well, when it comes to dynamic duos for Utah football, I think of special teams, specifically the kickers. Yeah, it feels a little bit dirty to pick two kickers, but these are not your normal kickers.

Your stereotypical kicking duo are the guys who are never in practice with their teammate's, instead they're out doing the special teams drills, and they're always bringing up the rear during gassers. That's not the case with either of Utah's kickers. Utah's kickers are not just kickers, but they are legit athletes and legit football players.

Utah place kicker Andy Phillips' journey has been well chronicled, going from the US National Ski Team to the Utah football team. The junior is a two-time captain for the Utes, and has been a two-time semifinalist for the Lou Groza award. For his career, Phillips is 42-of-52 (80.8%) on field goal attempts, with a long of 51, and is 91-of-92 on PATs. So for Utah's offense, generally, once they get to about the opponent's 30 yard line you can pencil in three points. They call him 'Automatic Andy' for a reason.

One of the best things about Phillips, not only is a very good kicker, but he's also a great weapon on kickoffs. Twice in his career, once against Utah State (his very first game) and once against UCLA, Phillips has pulled out a trick on-sides kick to gain an extra possession for Utah. So at anytime, if Utah thinks they have the advantage schematically on the kickoff, they will allow Phillips to go for an onside kick.

As I previously alluded to, Phillips isn't your typical place kicker in the weight room either. Whenever you see off season work out videos you'll see Phillips in the middle of the scrum doing squats and so on. When kickers do stuff like that, they legitimize themselves in the eyes of their teammate's that they are there for the grind, just like everybody else on the roster, scholarship or not. Here's a quick video of Phillips with Gionni Paul on his shoulders (while in pads) after the Utah State game singing the fight song.

The other half of Utah's dynamic kicking duo is Ray Guy winner Tom Hackett. The Aussie has proven to be a weapon that Utah can rely on to help flip the field and play the field position game. In the 2014 season, Utah's offense was really bad at times, so the Utes relied on Tom Hackett to flip the field and let the defense take care of business from there.

Something that is really special about Hackett is that he's what I'd consider a dual threat kicker. Hackett can sit back and do a traditional stand still punt, but he's really dangerous when he's on the move with rugby punts. When he does that, he can kick angled punts across the field, sometimes over the return guys head and really change the complexion of the game. There were multiple games last season where Utah probably doesn't win the game without the effectiveness of Hackett. The last three seasons, Hackett has had at least one 70-plus yard punt, and 47 punts of 50 or more yards.

With Hackett, to help show off his resume, I'm not going to discuss all of his stats, but show his awards from last season. To go along with his Ray Guy Award, Hackett was Utah's fifth all-time consensus All-American; he earned first-team honors from Walter Camp, the Associated Press, Phil Steele,,,, SB Nation and AFCA and FWAA, while being named to the Sporting News and USA Today All-American second team. Not to forget first team All-Pac-12. He's been so effective, that early on in this 2015 season, teams have been scheming with multiple returners to help mitigate his rugby punt.

Here's some of the highlights of Tom's punts:

While Utah's two spectacular kickers have been a bit on and off to start the season, no doubt they will be key to Utah's success this season. In a game of inches and yards, ask a lot of teams out there how important it is to have a reliable kicking game, because those extra inches and yards start to add up to extra wins. No matter what, Utah knows they always have one of the three phases of the game in their favor with Andy Phillips and Tom Hackett.