Utah Utes notebook: Utes kicker Coleman Petersen perfect in his first game

Published: Thursday, Sept. 1 2011 11:00 p.m. MDT

Utah wide receiver Reggie Dunn (14) celebrates beating Montana State in front of 45,311 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Thursday. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Utah wide receiver Reggie Dunn (14) celebrates beating Montana State in front of 45,311 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Thursday. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Coleman Petersen's debut as Utah's placekicker was a success.

The junior, who was locked in a battle with Nick Marsh for the job throughout camp, made both field goals and all three extra-point kicks he attempted in Thursday's 27-10 season-opening win over Montana State.

Petersen, a walk-on from Brighton High School, kicked in a game for the first time since 2005. He was a redshirt at Utah the following year and then served an LDS Church mission. Two seasons on the scout team followed.

"It was the first time I've kicked in a game in a while so it definitely feels real nice," said Petersen, who learned he won the job just two days before the game.

Petersen made a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter and 44-yard kick in the third.

"That was big. Hopefully that carries over throughout the rest of the season," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "It was only one game, it's only two kicks. But that was a great start, and he hit them with confidence. They were crisp kicks and he drilled them both."

INJURY UPDATE: A concussion kept left tackle John Cullen out of the game, but Whittingham said Miles Mason "did a pretty decent job" in his place

Cullen, an all-conference candidate, is expected to be cleared by Monday and play in the Sept. 10 game at USC.

Whittingham said the Utes avoided serious injuries in the opener. Shawn Asiata (hamstring), Tauni Vakapuna (ankle) and Tevita Stevens (shoulder stinger) suffered minor injuries in the game.

"Hopefully there's nothing that will be impacting us starting practice on Monday," Whittingham noted.

The Utes will watch the game film Friday. They'll also do lifting and conditioning before taking Saturday and Sunday off.

SLOW START: Montana State coach Rob Ash was happy for the most part about his team's performance, especially considering his team fell behind 24-0 early in the second quarter. He said it took his team awhile to get used to the plays Utah was running.

"We didn't have any idea about the formations and the plays Utah was going to run with Norm Chow being new as their coordinator here," said Ash. "I really thought that was part of it. We gave up touchdowns early on some plays that we had no way to scout. They were nice calls, good design and they got some touchdowns."

COLLEGIATE DEBUT: True freshman Harvey Langi, the highly-touted running back from Bingham High School, will not be redshirting this year. Although he didn't run the ball Thursday night, he did play on special teams, according to Whittingham. Langi, he added, could see action in the backfield at USC if Vakapuna's injury is more serious than initially thought.

EXTRA POINTS: The attendance was 45,311, just eight shy of the equaling the 15th largest crowd in stadium history (North Carolina, 2004). ... Scouts from the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans were credentialed for the game. ... Utah ski coach Kevin Sweeney, who guided the Utes to a runner-up finish at last year's NCAA championships, received the Don Reddish Award at the end of the first quarter. It's presented each year to the school's top coach outside of basketball, football or gymnastics.

Contributing: Mike Sorensen

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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