Oregon State is sticking with sophomore quarterback Sean Canfield.
Canfield has been struggling fitting into the role as the Beavers' starter, and in last weekend's 44-32 loss to Arizona State he threw five interceptions.
That's exactly why he needs to stay in place, coach Mike Riley said. Oregon State (2-2, 0-1 Pac-10) hosts UCLA (3-1, 2-0) on Saturday at Reser Stadium.
"I want Sean to be able to get back in there and stick the ball where it needs to be," the coach said. "I don't want him to be scared."
Canfield was in a heated battle with fellow sophomore Lyle Moevao for the starter's job during camp. When neither really separated, Riley started the season against Utah using Canfield in the first quarter and Moevao in the second.
Eventually Canfield was given the job.
But the five picks at Arizona State brought up questions about his confidence. He leads the Pac-10 with nine interceptions.
"Each game is good for my experience, whether a loss or a win," he said.
Canfield passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns against the Sun Devils. But a 19-0 lead and 514 yards in total offense were trumped by six turnovers.
Canfield also had three interceptions in a 34-3 loss at Cincinnati Sept. 6. Overall, he's thrown for 895 yards and six touchdowns.
"I know they have a young quarterback, a first year starter, and they're having some struggles with him," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. "But defensively, wow, they're pretty impressive. Right now they're playing as good a defense as there is in this conference."
Indeed, Oregon State's rushing defense is ranked second in the nation behind LSU, and the Beavers are giving up just 289 yards a game &
good enough to tie for 19th in the country.
While the Beavers stand behind Canfield, necessity is making the Bruins go with quarterback Ben Olson.
Patrick Cowan, who started for UCLA in a 44-31 victory over Washington last weekend, has a partial tear of a ligament in his right knee and will miss about three weeks.
Olson started the first three games of the season while Cowan nursed a hamstring injury. Then, Cowan played against the Huskies because Olson had recurring headaches.
Redshirt freshman McLeod Bethel-Thompson is listed as Olson's backup against the Beavers.
Olson started well this season, then struggled in the 44-6 upset loss at Utah on Sept. 15, when he threw three interceptions and was sacked five times.
"I know he's disgusted with how he played in the Utah game and I know he's working hard already trying to get himself ready to have a great game," Dorrell said earlier this week.
Oregon State beat Utah 27-7 to open the season.
The Bruins hit the road this weekend for the first time since that loss to the Utes, which pulled them out of the rankings.
"As bad as that Utah thing was, now we know every game is a championship game," UCLA tailback Kahlil Bell said. "If we want to be Pac-10 champions like we've all wanted to be since last season ended, we can't go out there and play like we did against Utah."
Last season the Bruins' defense was key in defeating the Beavers 25-7 at the Rose Bowl. Cowan threw a pair of touchdowns to Marcus Everett but the defense forced four Beaver fumbles and had five quarterback sacks.
Riley expects the same from the Bruins' defense this time.
"UCLA is very talented. I think it is one of the best defensive teams in the Pac-10," he said.
UCLA has won four straight in the series, and the last two in Corvallis. The Beavers haven't defeated the Bruins at Reser Stadium since a 55-7 rout in 1999.
Riley not backing off Canfield, while UCLA switches QBs again