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November 14, 2013

Phillips gets it done

After earning mid-season All-American honors and converting on his first 11 field goal attempts, Utah freshman kicker Andy Phillips found the going a little rough as the Utes ventured outside of the state for their the 2013 season.

Known as Andy 'Automatic,' to teammates, coaches, and fans, lets face it, the streak was bound to come an end as he went 2/5 on field goals attempts against Arizona and USC. The unfamiliar experience, while unfortunate, was a good lesson for Phillips who is still in his first year of organized football.

"It is my first year playing football and so I've had to - as well as things were going here at home and even down at BYU - I had to make some adjustments on the road," explained Phillips. "You know, that's something I wasn't used to, was playing a road game in front different crowds, different noises, and on different surfaces.

"So I just made it my goal after I had those rough two weeks to just kind of put my head down, work even harder, and not give myself any excuse. Just to bounce back and find my mentality. No matter what, if you make a kick or miss a kick, you have to go into the next kick with the same mentality. I've just tried to not that's happened in the past and just move on."

While he is new to football, Phillips has faced plenty ups and downs through sports in his past, something that has taught him to never get complacent.

"I've had a lot of success before (with) ski racing, so it's kind of been my life goal to not get to prideful," said Phillips. "Coach Hill does a good job of keeping us level-headed and making sure we understand the task at hand. Just because you get recognition from the people around you, doesn't mean you can work any less or take any of that for granted."

With that in mind the Utes' star kicker treats every kick-whether in game or practice-like he is in a fight to maintain his spot. "I've tried to tackle (my kicking this season) with the same mentality that I had coming into fall camp, that I'm fighting for a spot and no matter what I'm just trying to be the best that I can be and the best for this team," he claimed.

Throughout the season, Phillips has received plenty of recognition-and rightfully so due to all the points he is responsible for-but he credits the fluidity that has been created between him, Tom Hackett, and Chase Dominguez.

"Chase, he's a 19 year-old kid out of high school coming into a Pac-12 school and he's been perfect all year, hasn't missed a snap, and Tom's been perfect, hasn't missed a hold," said Phillips. "That's been super nice for me because I don't have to worry about anything going wrong except for my technique, so that's been a really help to our success."

Several kickers no matter the level that they are kicking at, at one point or another have a problem with mental aspect of things. For Phillips, his biggest concern with being new to the position is his technique.

"Luckily I haven't been able to form any bad habits because I'm so new to (placekicking)," he claimed. "I've had to make minor adjustments to my technique. For a lot of kickers it is mental because they have the ability and they've been doing it their whole lives, so they step on the field and it's just getting past the intimidation. For me, I guess the psychology of kicking hasn't really affected me too much more than what I'm used to in my skiing."

Phillips' competitive background on the slopes has shown on the field and is why every time Phillips lines up for a kick, he has ice in his veins.


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