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OSU's Agnew realistic about hamstring

CORVALLIS - Malcolm Agnew is nothing if not a realist.

The true freshman running back from St. Louis, who figures to be in the starting lineup when Oregon State faces Washington State Saturday night at Seattle's CenturyLink Field, doesn't expect his hamstring issues to go away.

'Given my history, it's going to be an ongoing thing for the rest of the year, and probably for a long time,' Agnew said Tuesday.

The 5-8, 190-pound Agnew missed most of his high school senior season with injuries to both hamstrings. He held up well in August training camp and rushed for 233 yards and three touchdowns in OSU's opener against Sacramento State.

But Agnew injured his right hamstring in practice the next week and didn't return until last Saturday's 38-28 loss to Brigham Young, carrying 10 times for 49 yards.

'It's feeling pretty good,' Agnew said before Tuesday's practice. 'It's a little tight right now, but I'll stretch it out and hopefully it will be good.'

Agnew estimated the hamstring is '95 to 100 percent healthy - same as before the (BYU) game.'

'It's definitely improved from when I first hurt it,' he said. 'It's much better.'

That Agnew's hamstring held up through Saturday's game 'is a good sign,' OSU coach Mike Riley said. 'It's something we hopefully don't have to talk about very much, and he keeps getting better as the season goes on.'

Oregon State ranks 10th in the Pac-12 and 107th nationally in rushing offense, averaging only 101.8 yards per game.

'When our running game is going, our whole offense is better, no matter who is playing running back,' Agnew said.

Riley would like for Agnew to double his amount of carries from the BYU game to Saturday's contest against Washington State.

'We'll get Malcolm going more than we did last week,' the OSU coach said. 'That's one of the goals.'

Agnew said that would be 'super,' adding, 'whatever we can do to get a win. Whether it's a lot of carries, or no carries and working on blocking for the quarterback, I'll work on that.'

After fumbling in the third quarter of the BYU game, Agnew didn't play again. But Riley said it was more a result of Agnew's missing a blitz pickup in pass protection.

'It was a small mistake, something I shouldn't have made,' Agnew said. 'I'm working on that daily.'

Agnew said spirits remain good within the OSU program despite the 1-5 start.

Riley 'is the most optimistic coach in the whole NC-double-A,' Agnew said. 'He doesn't give us time to put our heads down. That's not what men do. They keep their heads up.'