Utah football: Kicking game remains an issue for Utes
Utah notes • Coach seeks alternatives as last year’s placekicker, Petersen, struggles.
Published: August 14, 2012 11:50PM
Updated: August 12, 2012 11:53PM
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Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune Utah Utes kicker Coleman Petersen (95) kicks a field goal during a practice at the Spence Eccles Field House Thursday April 12, 2012.

The installation of Utah’s offense and defense is right on track, but the kicking game? That continues to be a weak spot for the Utes.

After watching his kickers miss three of four attempts in the red zone, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham called the kicking game the biggest disappointment of preseason practice.

“It’s unacceptable,” he said of the misses on Saturday. “We went through the same thing last fall and nothing has changed. Hopefully, last year we got some good kicking out of Coleman Petersen, and hopefully it will have a good ending like last year. Right now it’s not good.”

Petersen was honorable mention All-Pac-12 last year after finishing second in the league in field-goal percentage, making 18 of 25. He kicked a game-winner from 38 yards out in a snowstorm at Washington State, but also missed some crucial kicks, including three in a loss to Colorado.

Petersen has struggled in camp to the point that Nick Marsh, a junior who handled kickoff duties last year, has moved ahead of Petersen.

However, Whittingham clearly isn’t satisfied with either kicker.

The Utes do have one other option — Tom Hackett, a freshman walk-on from Australia. He hasn’t out-kicked either of the veterans in place-kicking drills, but he has shown accuracy the Utes could use.

“He has a really good knack of sky kicking and has the ability to put the ball inside the 5,” Whittingham said. “That might be his specialization.”

No changes

Although freshman quarterback Travis Wilson has closed the gap on Jon Hays for the backup role behind starter Jordan Wynn, Whittingham said he doesn’t anticipate any depth chart changes until after Tuesday’s scrimmage.

Wilson will continue to get more reps the better he plays, Whittingham said.

Still in the mix

Tight end Kendrick Moeai, who missed spring ball while rehabbing from shoulder surgery, is having a good camp and is in the mix for playing time with the other tight ends.

He and Dallin Rogers, Jake Murphy, Westlee Tonga and David Rolf are all doing well enough that there is little separation between any of the players.

“Every day one does something really good,” Whittingham said. “They are playing consistent football and we have to find a way to utilize them.”

Moeai had 15 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown last year.