Clark Phillips III Embracing Position Change Regardless Of Duration
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III is embracing a position change even when he doesn’t know how long he will be playing in that spot.
On Saturday against UCLA, Clark Phillips played nickel back instead of his usual outside cornerback position due to an undisclosed injury to Malone Mataele. Many might think that the position change is easy as Phillips just slides inside but it’s completely different in Kyle Whittingham’s system.
That and much more was discussed on the Faith, Family and Football podcast. You can listen to the full show, below.
“It was fun,” said Phillips. “We prepared all week and I was put in great situations. I was just excited because it’s a new spot and playing outside corner is completely different from the nickel, especially in our scheme. The nickel is required to do so much. There’s a lot of formational adjustments, in terms of alignment. There’s a lot of personnel alignment, things that you have to do as a nickel. Blitzes, in terms of covering and just things that are required when you’re a nickel back. I was super excited for the challenge. I feel like I took it on well, made some plays made, some mistakes, but I’m just grateful for the experience. My coaches put me in great positions.”
Clark Phillips III Is Getting More Comfortable At Nickel
Last season during training camp, Phillips played nickel and realized how difficult it is to learn but he is getting more comfortable as he keeps getting reps at the position.
“I’ve only played a couple of games at nickel, I played several games at outside corner,” stated Phillips. “So, the comfort isn’t like I am at outside but it’s definitely getting there and I’d say I feel really good at it. I feel like I can be really good at nickel. It would take more reps and I’m excited. I want to help the team and right now helping the team is playing nickel.”
Phillips finished with seven total tackles, including five solo tackles and two pass breakups in Utah’s 44-24 win over UCLA.
Potentially Playing Nickel Against Stanford
Head coach Kyle Whittingham doesn’t talk about injuries unless that player is out for the rest of the season. He did mention on Monday at his weekly press conference that Malone Mataele is a game-time decision. If Phillips has to play nickel against Stanford, he will be ready for the challenge.
“I’m just willing to do whatever for the team,” mentioned Phillips. “Wherever they want me to play and wherever that requires me to play, I really want to help the team and I really want us to win and I don’t want to lose and I don’t want to be the reason that we lose. If I have to play nickel then let’s play nickel, let’s get it, I want to be the best nickel, but if I have to play corner, I’m going to be the best corner let’s do it. Safety, if it’s kicker or punter, I am going to learn how to kick some footballs. I say that to say I’m excited. I will have to be a little bit more ready for the run because Stanford is like us and like to run the rock so I’ll definitely have to bring my hard hat.”
Utah and Stanford will kickoff at 8:30 p.m. MT on Friday, November 5 on FS1.
Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com, Co-Host of Faith, Family and Football podcast with Clark Phillips III and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.
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