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Jonathan Smith opened the football portion of Monday’s meeting with the media talking about the Beavers needing to improve in the second half of games.

Oregon State’s first-year coach said the Beavers must do a better job of getting off the field defensively as well as sustaining drives on offense.

The Beavers had the ball for just 3 minutes, 7 seconds in the third quarter against Southern Utah on Saturday as the Thunderbirds had 169 yards total offense in the quarter.

It was a similar situation the week before, as Ohio State limited the Beavers to just 2:59 of time of possession. Of course, two long Artavis Pierce touchdown runs (80 and 78 yards) provided 14 points on the scoreboard.

“You look at the time of possession in the third quarter (and) it’s killing us,” Smith said.

Smith did note the Beavers played some backups on offense against the Thunderbirds.

“We feel good about those younger guys getting in there,” Smith said.

That also included making a quarterback change in each of the third quarters with Jack Colletto playing the second half of the Ohio State game and Jake Luton the second half against Southern Utah.

“I don’t really see the quarterback change being a huge piece of the second half issues as much as our ability to compete and play well for 60 minutes,” Smith said.

Quarterback quandary

Speaking of quarterbacks, the weekly question popped up again as to who will start this week against Nevada.

Luton was the starter the first game before suffering a concussion on the opening drive.

On came Conor Blount, who finished that half and then got the start last week against the Thunderbirds.

Smith said he saw good things out of both but will wait until the end of the week to name a starter.

“After watching the tape, I thought both guys really did some good things,” Smith said. “I feel good about where we’re at with two guys who can move the ball. And I kind of like continuing this. We’re not just going to name a guy, we just work through the week and see who has a good week of work. The whole body of work counts.”

Injury update

Pierce will miss around four weeks with the elbow injury he suffered in Saturday’s win, Smith said.

Receiver Trevon Bradford also left the game with a shoulder injury after a touchdown catch in the second quarter. Smith said Bradford is day-to-day and will be re-evaluated later in the week to see if he would be available for Saturday.

Smith said tight end Noah Togiai, defensive lineman Jeromy Reichner and safety David Morris all are  progressing.

“They are making progress but I don’t anticipate any of those guys this weekend but we are hopeful moving forward in the next couple weeks to get some of those guys back,” he said.

On Casey

Smith has known Pat Casey since his days as an athlete at Oregon State and even played noon pickup basketball games with him as a graduate assistant.

Smith was on hand last Thursday when Casey announced his retirement as Oregon State’s baseball coach after 24 seasons.

“He is just the epitome of what we want to be here at Oregon State,” Smith said Monday. “The way he develops people on and off the field, talking about a true competitor. I was just so impressed over time watching that baseball program get to the level it did.

“I think it was a great day for him and I was pleased to be a part of listening to him. The guy’s a class act.”

Nevada memories

Smith faced Nevada as a player in 1999, the first game for former coach Dennis Erickson, and said what he remembers most is being on the sideline with Erickson for the first time, how bad the field was and the environment and atmosphere.

He also remembers a naked bootleg pass to tight end Marty Mauer that went for a touchdown that put the Beavers ahead in what turned out to be a 28-13 win.

Smith recalled faking to the left, rolling to his right and dumping the ball to Mauer.

“And then he takes it to the house and it’s like one of those plays Marty keeps talking about like he’s fast,” Smith recalled fondly. "… Yeah, he took it to the house and he’s never forgot it.”

A good gauge?

Oregon State opened the season at then-No. 5 Ohio State and was blown out, then hosted FCS Southern Utah and was on the good side of a blowout.

So at 1-1, could Saturday’s trip to Nevada be a better gauge as to where the Beavers are early in Smith’s tenure?

“Gauging where we’re at, I just want to find out where we’re at that one week and then go to the next,” Smith said. “I do know this will be a tough challenge. That place can get rocking, they’ve got some players, they score some points so we’re going to need our 'A' game to get a win."

Arizona kickoff

Oregon State's Sept. 22 home game against Arizona will kickoff at 1 p.m. and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

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Sports Editor

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald