Utah football: Aussie adds bright spot to Utes' punt game
Between blocked punts and missed field goals, the Utah Utes have had their frustrations on special teams.
But one of the bright spots has come from a rather unexpected source.
Tom Hackett, a walk-on freshman out of Melbourne, Australia, showed a talent for accurately placing the ball on sky punts during fall camp.
The Utes put his talent to the test against BYU, and Hackett delivered, placing three punts inside the 10-yard line.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Hackett could hear his name called more often in the future.
"He has gotten better and better since he has been with us," Whittingham said. "He has that Australian whatever it is, that Australian mentality where nothing phases him. I think he has a future in this program."
Hackett was named a Pac-12 Player of the Week, an award he had to have explained to him.
"First game, it was a good result," he said.
The Utes are familiar with Arizona State coach Todd Graham, who was the coach at Pitt last year when the Utes beat the Panthers 26-14.
Graham left for ASU in December after just one year at Pitt, which went 6-6.
Whittingham said playing Graham's team has given the Utes at least an idea of how he coaches, but not enough to have a major advantage.
"Your best info still is looking at what they are doing this year," he said.
Whittingham was complimentary of the way Graham has already improved the Sun Devils, noting the team had talent last year but that Graham is putting it to good use.
"They have athletes all over the place," he said. "They have speed and athleticism across the board."
Running back John White took "limited" reps in practice according to Whittingham. ... The Utes broke out new black helmets at practice, which the players liked, but they didn't really seem to catch Whittingham's fancy.
"They don't make you tackle any better or block any better, so I think they are irrelevant," he said.