Petersen putting his best foot forward by just kicking

Published: Saturday, Dec. 10 2011 8:40 p.m. MST

Utah kicker Coleman Petersen (95) kicks the first of his four field goals as Pittsburgh's Antwuan Reed (22) rushes to give Utah the lead in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011, in Pittsburgh.

Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah kicker Coleman Petersen has found some solace. After missing three kicks in last month's 17-14 loss to Colorado — a setback that ultimately cost the Utes a berth in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game — the junior took a few days off.

"Then I went out kicking," Petersen said. "The more I kick, the more I get confidence."

It helped ease the pain he felt after failing to connect from 42, 26 and 48 yards out against the Buffaloes. The misses came just six days after Petersen earned Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors with three makes, including a game-winning 38-yard kick in overtime in the snow at Washington State.

"It was actually just surreal, kind of something that I never thought would happen to me," Petersen said. "I know I'm going to miss field goals, but I never expect to miss three in one game."

He took it pretty hard, as did others.

Petersen, though, is now regaining his confidence — getting back to the mindset of making field goals once again.

"The team was probably the most supportive," he explained. "I think I'd probably still be down if it wasn't for them."

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is confident Petersen will put the last game behind him and move ahead. The Utes face Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31.

"First of all, he kicked very well for us. If you look at the season as a whole, which is how you have to evaluate it, he did a nice job for us. I believe that the last game was just a bump in the road, and he's going to get back on track," Whittingham said. "Kicking is such a mental thing, as we all know, and you've just got to have confidence. I don't believe Coleman lacks any confidence. I think he believes in himself, and I think he'll bounce back and kick very well in the bowl game."

Although he admits his first kick in El Paso might be a little nerve-racking, Petersen is determined to put his best foot forward, so to speak.

"I'm pretty excited to get back out there in the bowl game, just kind of to get everybody's confidence back in me," Petersen said. "I know I have it in myself and I know they have it, but I think I kind of want to be able to show them that they can have it."

FIRST WEEK: Utah's first three days of bowl practices are in the books and Whittingham is pleased with what he has seen.

"Very good, couldn't ask for any more as far as effort and focus," he said after Saturday morning's session at the Spence Eccles Field House. "So we're off to a good start."

Same goes for the developmental practices.

"We've got quite a few guys of that young group that are starting to show some promise and some progress," Whittingham said.

RECRUITING VISIT: The Utes had seven recruits in town this week. The athletes making official visits were treated to a campus tour, meals and were able to watch a practice, a weight room session and attend a position meeting.

"More than anything else it's to let them get a feel for what we're all about," Whittingham said.

EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham and the team captains attended Saturday's basketball game at the Huntsman Center. Whittingham and offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom thanked the crowd for their support and invited everyone to attend the Sun Bowl. ... The Utes will resume on-field practices on Thursday. ... Bergstrom, defensive end Derrick Shelby and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei were named to ESPN.com's Pac-12 all-conference team.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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