Mitchell to start for OSU as Collins heals
CORVALLIS — Nick Mitchell will be Oregon State's starting quarterback on Saturday when the Beavers take on UCLA at 1:30 p.m. at Reser Stadium.
Coach Gary Andersen said Monday that Seth Collins won't be ready to play and the team will go with Mitchell and Marcus McMaryion as the backup.
Collins is nursing a hurt knee and was limping during Monday's practice. He was a late scratch from the trip to Utah last weekend.
"Nick will start Saturday, for sure," Andersen said. "I need to talk with the docs again and talk with Seth and figure out exactly what the scenario is but I don't expect much practice out of him this week for sure, if any.
"Seth had a great attitude (Monday) and told me he aced his two tests when he didn't go (to Salt Lake City). So if he didn't go on the trip and he sat here and took his tests as a freshman and he aced two of his tests, that puts a smile on my face also."
Mitchell played the full game in the 27-12 Pac-12 loss to the Utes and Andersen said he had a solid game.
Mitchell completed 19 of 35 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown. He had one big play, a 74-yard toss to Jordan Villamin.
"Outside of the pocket I thought he threw the ball extremely well," Andersen said. "And I think given the opportunity to have more time within the pocket which hopefully we can do as we move forward, he'll get the ball through the reads even cleaner than he was."
Mitchell showed some wheels running the football. Collins caught the spotlight with his open field ability and acrobatics, but Mitchell can do some damage as well.
He had 40 yards on 12 carries, with a long run of 16 yards.
"His ability to run is much better than one might think and I thought he could run pretty well as we went through camp," Andersen said. "He seems to be a young man that has really good angles when the game is on the line or he has to make a play. Some quarterbacks will come out of there and they're athletic enough to go get the yards and Nick kind of understands the angles, he knows how to protect himself and he is able to get down (and) make good decisions.
"At end of the day, that was his real true first start, if you will. And playing the whole game and understanding that it was his team. Also the team reacted in a positive way to him."
No moral victories
The Beavers (2-6, 0-5 Pac-12) surprised a lot of people with their effort against Utah, but Andersen is focused on winning.
"There are no attaboys for our kids. I also told them that (Monday) in the team meeting," Andersen said. "We don't want to hear this and that. The bottom line is you play this game to win."
That doesn't mean Andersen refuses to acknowledge the team's improvement. But there's work to be done in order to get over the hump and get that 'W.'
"There is a fine line with kids. I get that, I understand it. I'm extremely hard on myself and hard on our coaches and can't be that hard on the kids. So we do look at some things and understand what we're doing better and I talked to them about that," he said.
"We're playing better at certain times, in certain sitations, we're definitely playing better. It's just the peaks and valleys will get you in this league."
Going on the offensive
The Beavers have struggled to score, particularly in the past two weeks.
That led to a frustrating 17-13 loss to Colorado and the loss in Utah.
Andersen said the Beavers are not at the point where they can regularly grind out long scoring drives, so they need to come up with several big plays a game.
Another key is to avoid drive-killing penalties. But perhaps the biggest need for the Beavers is to come up with touchdowns in the red zone.
"We need to score in the red zone. You have to score touchdowns," Andersen said. "You have no chance to win in this league if you're going to go out and there and score 10 points and 13 points. You're just never going to win. That's where we have to get better."
Late game at Cal
The Beavers' game at California on Nov. 14 has been set for 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.