BEAVERS NOTES: New turf, a look at BYU, highlights from Arizona and injury reports on Agnew, others
Oregon State football notes ...
• OSU's practice field is getting a rug.
Tommy Prothro Field, which has featured natural grass over the years, will be redone with an artificial FieldTurf surface during the offseason.
'We hope it's ready for fall camp' next August, OSU coach Mike Riley says.
The FieldTurf surface at Reser Stadium will also be replaced in the offseason.
Once the turf is in, Prothro Field will be available year-round for not only OSU athletic teams but for intramurals and physical-education classes.
'It's a beautiful grass field, but it takes so much work and expense, and (the OSU football team uses) it about 30 days a year,' Riley says. 'Now, it will get used virtually every day by somebody. It'll be great for not only the athletic department for the student body in general.'
Riley says the Beavers don't need to practice on grass. The only Pac-12 North school with natural grass is Stanford.
'And the grass at most other conference schools is different than ours,' Riley says. 'Arizona State, for instance, is fast and low cut like (artificial) turf.'
FieldTurf at Prothro Field will also ease usage by groups other than the football team at Reser Stadium and allow the new surface to last longer, Riley says.
• Brigham Young comes to Corvallis for Saturday's matchup with a three-game win streak and a new quarterback.
Riley Nelson, a 6-0, 195-pound junior left-hander, got his first start of the season in Saturday's 29-16 victory over San Jose State. Nelson completed 14 of 24 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns and ran nine times for 65 yards.
Nelson, who started as a true freshman at Utah State in 2006, transferred to BYU after a two-year church mission. He started the first three games last season before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
That opened the door for Jake Heaps, a true freshman out of Issaquah, Wash., to start at QB for the rest of the season. Heaps opened this season as the starter, but Nelson came on in the second half and led BYU to a 27-24 win over Utah State two weeks ago.
Oregon State recruited Heaps out of Skyline High.
'So did everybody else,' Riley says.
Riley watched Nelson in the Utah State game.
'He's a good runner,' the OSU coach says. 'He ran the quarterback draw three or four times for big gains, and he made some plays passing that were big-time.'
With Heaps, BYU's offense was pass-oriented. That changes some with Nelson. Against San Jose State, the Cougars gained 224 yards on the ground and 219 yards through the air. Michael Alisa, a 6-1, 215-pound sophomore in his first start at tailback, gained 91 yards on 16 carries.
For the season, BYU's offensive balance is similar to Oregon State's. The Cougars (4-2) average 116 yards rushing and 227 yards passing; the Beavers average 110 yards rushing and 280 yards passing.
• Brigham Young is coming off four straight home games. The Cougars opened the season with a 14-13 victory over Mississippi, then lost 17-16 at Texas and were blasted by Utah 54-10. Since then, they have won close games over Central Florida (24-17), Utah State and San Jose State.
BYU is in its first season playing football as an independent. The last time BYU and Oregon State met on the gridiron, the Cougars routed the Beavers 44-20 in the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl. They are coached by former OSU player and assistant coach Bronco Mendenhall, who is in his seventh season as head coach and owns a 60-23 record.
'I have a lot of respect for their program,' Riley says.
• A week ago, Riley said the special-teams play in a 35-20 loss at Arizona State 'was probably the worst' his teams have had in his 11 years at Oregon State.
In OSU's 37-27 win over Arizona Saturday, it flipped 180 degrees.
'I doubt if I've ever had a team beat (the opponent) that decisively in special teams,' Riley says.
Riley was very impressed with the play of junior Clayton York - and not just on the Redmond High grad's blocked punt for a touchdown.
'York was a star,' Riley says. 'He made a tackle on the kickoff team, too. He was really good.'
• The running back situation remains unsettled.
True freshman Malcolm Agnew, who has been out since rushing for 223 yards and three touchdowns in the opener against Sacramento State, 'is improving,' Riley says.
OSU coaches hope Agnew will be able to practice Tuesday. If he remains out through Saturday, the Beavers may elect to medically redshirt him this season.
'This is a big week,' Riley says. 'We'll make some decisions after we find out what his practice status is for this week - a short-term decision about the (BYU) game and possibly a long-term decision about his season.'
Sophomore Jovan Stevenson, who gained 99 yards on 17 carries before exiting early in the fourth quarter with concussion-like symptoms, will probably miss some practice time as a result of the injury.
'Where that places his status for the game, I don't know,' Riley says.
That might mean the job will be shared by true freshman Terron Ward - who started against Arizona but fumbled early, earning him a spot on the sidelines most of the rest of the way - junior Jordan Jenkins and possibly senior Ryan McCants against the Cougars.
• Other injury news: Tight end Colby Prince (knee) and linebacker Cameron Collins (shoulder) should be able to practice Tuesday. So, too, should guard Josh Andrews, who has been out for the last three games with a knee injury. 'He probably needs the whole week of practice to prove he's ready to play,' Riley says. 'If he's ready, he will start.' ... Also back is receiver/special teams player Micah Hatfield, whose broken thumb has healed.
• Four prospects were in Corvallis this weekend on official visits, three from Mt. SAC College in Walnut, Calif. - offensive linemen Stan Hasiak and Visesio Salt and defensive end Koliniasi Leota - along with offensive guard Josh Mitchell from Snoqualmie, Wash., who has verbally committed. Also on hand for an unofficial visit was another commit - linebacker Joel Skotte from Mountain View High in Bend.
• Though Sean Mannion twice overthrew Markus Wheaton on what would have been touchdown passes, the redshirt freshman still had 'a very good day' against Arizona, Riley says.
'He made some big plays,' Riley says. 'On both touchdown passes (to Joe Halahuni), Sean showed a lot of poise. He made some good throws down the field, some good angle throws to (Jordan) Bishop. If we can protect him and give him some time, he's pretty good.'
Mannion ranks seventh in the Pac-12 in passing yardage per game (258.2), is third behind Arizona's Nick Foles and USC's Matt Barkley in completions per game (25.8) and has completed 65.5 percent of his passes (129 for 197). Mannion has thrown seven interceptions and been sacked only six times.
• Riley thought the Oregon State offensive line had its best game of the year.
'The run-blocking was better, and we pass-protected better,' the OSU coach says.
• Oregon State's defense has made strides, Riley says.
'Two weeks has made a lot of difference,' he says. 'They played well at ASU and played well for the most part against Arizona.
'The run defense was really good Saturday. I was disappointed we gave up two long passes in the second half, but for the most part, our coverage was good. Foles got his average (throwing for 378 yards), but they have a good receiving corps.'
NOTES: Riley thought Lance Mitchell had one of the best games of his career, but the coach had a discussion with the senior safety about the taunting penalty he incurred for spinning the ball after an interception. 'No excuse for that,' Riley says. ... In his three games since returning from knee surgery, senior flanker James Rodgers has been good, not great, catching 14 passes for 149 yards and a TD and running four times for 29 yards. 'He's getting back into it, and he is making plays for us,' Riley says. 'He'll get better as we go through the season.' ... Oregon State's 2012 schedule calls for a bye after the second game, against Wisconsin. It will be the third straight season the Beavers will have had a bye in the first few weeks. 'It's not ideal,' Riley says. 'You'd rather have it come between the sixth and eighth week. That's what we'll try for in the future.'