Finishing with a second straight losing season for the Oregon State football team has been difficult for the players.
Two more games remain with Saturday's Pacific-12 Conference home contest with Washington and the Nov. 26 Civil War in Eugene.
Players were noticeably down after last Saturday's loss to California, but they were refocused for practice on Tuesday.
"We have two more games to try and turn this around," linebacker Cameron Collins said. "We never stop practicing hard. You can't do that. Guys on this team have enough character to know that."
Coach Mike Riley is concerned about their mental health anyway, especially the younger players in key positions.
Winning is contagious, but so is losing.
"It's a real thing," Riley said. "The simple way to put it is momentum, positive or negative. We've experienced both."
The only way to get through this rough stretch is preparation from the coaches, their enthusiasm in teaching the players and demanding as much as possible, Riley said.
However, the coaching staff is going out of its way to keep the players focused and motivated just in case.
"The most important thing we do is a special emphasis with time with the kids as much as possible, at all times," Riley said. "Whenever they are available, not in school, we grab them to talk to them as a group and individually. More and more of that is needed at this time."
Older players such as safety Lance Mitchell and Collins are trying to do their part in advising the younger players so they don't give up.
"It's not easy on anybody to have a season like this," Mitchell said. "In order to keep going and have a chance at the game, you have to keep them in it and our young guys are doing a good job. We practice well every week, no matter what happened the previous week."
Henry focused on school
Junior defensive end Taylor Henry quit the team to focus on academics and try to complete his ethnic studies degree by the end of the school year, Riley said.
"He wanted to focus," Riley said. "He was overwhelmed with everything he had to do."
Riley tried to talk Henry out of his decision. He wanted him to play next season and work on a graduate degree.
Losing the starting job to Dylan Wynn, a true freshman, didn't enter into their conversation, Riley said.
Henry can return to the team since he's remaining on campus. He might change his mind during spring practice.
"I'm not closing any doors," Riley said. "I want to make sure he finishes (school) and if he wants to have a discussion about coming back, he can."
Offensive tackle Mike Remmers (knee) can practice this week after a precautionary MRI came back negative, Riley said.
Linebacker Rueben Robinson (concussion) is doubtful for Saturday's game, but Kevin Unga (calf/knee) should be back close to full speed.
Center Geoff Garner (shoulder) practiced. His MRI didn't show a long-term problem.
Center Grant Johnson (ankle) practiced, but his status for the game won't be known until later in the week.
Mitchell has scheduled surgery for his abdominal and groin injuries on Nov. 29 to correct a problem that has plagued him the last two seasons.
Recovery will take seven or eight weeks, then he'll be able to train for spring workouts for NFL scouts.
"Hopefully, I'll be able to show my talents at a combine or a pro day," Mitchell said. "I think I'll be ready and I'll have a shot."
Penalty woes continue
The Beavers have given up an average of 69.4 penalty yards a game. That ranks 11th in the Pac-12 and 117th out of 120 teams nationally. Opponents have attained 27 first downs by penalty, the most in the nation.