OSU NOTES: Ward ready for RB start
CORVALLIS -- Notes from Oregon State's practice session Tuesday at Tommy Prothro Field. ...
Terron Ward will be the starting tailback and redshirt freshman Chris Brown his backup when Oregon State (2-1 overall, 1-0 in Pac-12 play) visits San Diego State (0-2) in a 4:30 p.m. Saturday game at Qualcomm Stadium.
Starter Storm Woods, who suffered a concussion in last Saturday's 51-48 overtime victory at Utah, hasn't been at practice the past two days and will not make the trip.
"I talked with Storm" Monday, Ward said. "He can't be out here walking around and in the (video) room with those bright lights. He's just taking it easy, but he's doing fine. He'll be all right."
Ward, who has carried the ball 18 times for 43 yards and a touchdown this season, has plenty of experience. The 5-7, 200-pound junior from Antioch, Calif., rushed for 415 yards and six TDs and caught 10 passes for 79 yards last season. He started three games as a redshirt freshman in 2011.
"Whatever we ask him to do, he does well," OSU coach Mike Riley said.
Brown, a 5-10, 200-pound redshirt freshman from Fresno, Calif., was the 21st-ranked running back in the nation by Rivals, with 5,018 yards and 65 touchdowns during his prep career. He has not played running back for the Beavers this season.
"Chris has a lot of talent," Riley said. "He has done a good job for us from spring ball right into (training) camp. We're OK there."
Where the Beavers are not OK is in the rushing game. They rank 117th among 123 FBS teams with a 70.0-yard-per-game average. Ward sounds determined to change that.
"When I get the ball, I'm just going to do what I have to do to get yards," he said. "Our O-linemen are going to do a good job this weekend. We're going to run the ball. We're going to run tough.
"We're going to throw the ball, too. Sean (Mannion) is going crazy in the pass game. We're going to come out, play hard, play fast, and we'll see what the score is at the end of the game."
Ward understands the importance of establishing a ground game to keep opposing defenses honest.
"You have to have those safeties and corners coming down," he said. "You can't have them deep back double-covering Brandin (Cooks) every game. We have to get (a rushing attack) going, you know? It's frustrating we're not producing like we want to, but we'll get it going."
Mannion, second in the nation in passing yardage (1,237) behind California's Jared Goff (1,306), was honored Monday as Pac-12 offensive player of the week. It's the third time for the 6-5, 220-pound junior, who threw for a career-high 433 yards at Utah. Mannion won the award once each as a freshman and sophomore.
"It's a cool honor, but more than anything, it says a lot about my teammates," he said. "Brandin and Richard (Mullaney) were tremendous and our O-line played great. I was hardly touched throughout the game. It says more about my teammates than it does about me."
Riley said Mannion "was outstanding against the best defense we've played against so far. There was more heat, more people coming (on the pass rush). He was very poised, made some big-time plays, some of them under duress, and was real good in the clutch. You don't ask just anybody to throw the ball like that in big situations. He showed lots of confidence and good consistency."
Mannion has completed 73.1 percent of his passes this season, with 12 touchdowns and one interception.
"Once you hit your third year of playing, you're no longer really thinking out there, you're reacting," he said. "At this point, I know the offense like the back of my hand. There's less thought that goes into it and more reaction to what the defense is doing."
Mannion and starting center Josh Mitchell are roommates. Mitchell, a 6-3, 290-pound sophomore, was thrust into a starting role when Isaac Seumalo (knee) couldn't play against Eastern Washington and has been there since.
"Josh is one of my best friends on the team," Mannion said. "He got thrown into the fire. Minutes before the Eastern Washington game, he found out he was going to start. He went in and played outstanding ball.
"Center is a tough position because of all the responsibilities he has calling out protections, but he has picked that up great. He's a smart player. I've always said he's tough as nails. He'll battle anyone."
NOTES: Place-kicker Trevor Romaine, who went 3 for 3 in field goals and made a career-long 49-yard attempt, was named Pac-12 special teams player of the week. The 6-foot, 195-pound junior won the award once as a sophomore. Oregon State leads the nation in red-zone efficiency, scoring on each of its 18 chances -- 14 touchdowns and four field goals. OSU is tied for second nationally in turnovers lost with one in three games, an interception. Only one FBS team has no turnovers -- Oregon. Offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh hopes that after a bye on Oct. 5, starters Grant Enger at guard (knee) and Gavin Andrews at tackle (mononucleosis) will be back in the fold. Neither will play Saturday and both are unlikely to be ready by the Sept. 28 home game against Colorado. Reserve defensive tackle Siale Hautau, who has a strained bicep, didn't practice Tuesday. Before Oregon State's fourth-quarter flea-flicker pass from Ward to Mannion to Brandin Cooks at Utah on fourth-and-inches, Riley had called a run play for fullback Tyler Anderson. Then Riley called timeout. "I said to (O-coordinator) Danny Langsdorf, 'I'd really like to try a throwback,' " the OSU head coach said. "Danny said, 'Go for it.' "
San Diego State has lost to FCS foe Eastern Illinois 40-19 and Ohio State 42-7. The Aztecs had a bye last Saturday. Junior Quinn Kaehler, a transfer from Diablo Valley (Calif.) JC, will make his first start Saturday. The 6-4, 210-pound Kaehler, who threw for 4,044 yards and 38 touchdowns in 12 games a year ago, was 22 of 36 for 216 yards with one TD and one interception in a reserve role against the Buckeyes. SDS's coaching staff has an Oregon State flavor. Head coach Rocky Long was OSU's defensive coordinator under Jerry Pettibone from 1991-95. Defensive line coach Osia Lewis played at Oregon State from 1982-85 and coached linebackers and special teams under Pettibone from 1991-96. (Lewis' son, Marvin, is a student at OSU). Wide receivers coach LeCharls McDaniel coached tight ends and special teams under Riley in 2003 and '04. Also on the Aztecs' staff are offensive coordinator Bob Toledo, who served that position at Oregon from 1983-88 under Rich Brooks, and quarterbacks coach Brian Sipe, who played 12 years with the NFL Cleveland Browns. Riley and Long have met up twice as head coaches. Oregon State routed New Mexico 55-14 in the 2003 Las Vegas Bowl. The next year, the Beavers beat the Lobos 17-7 in a regular-season game. Oregon State and San Diego State have met three times on the gridiron, the Aztecs winning in 1972 and '75 and the Beavers prevailing 35-3 in 2000. San Diego State is 1-20 in its last 21 games against Pac-12 teams, beating Washington State 42-24 in 2011.