CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Mannion is doing his best to remain positive despite Oregon State's 0-4 start.
"We have four tough losses but within that there is a lot of good stuff that we can build on," he said. "We are going to keep working. These past five weeks we have been working real hard and it is going to pay off eventually."
Mannion has also had a bumpy start to his young college career. He wasn't even the official starter for the first two games of the season, but came out on top of a surprising quarterback controversy.
Last weekend in the Beavers' 35-20 loss at Arizona State, Mannion completed 40 of 66 passes for 341 yards and a touchdown, but he was intercepted four times.
His attempts and completions set new Oregon State records, surpassing Erik Wilhelm, who went 39 for 64 in 1986 against Michigan.
It was Mannion's third game with at least 200 passing yards.
"Sean had some great plays and some very rough ones," Beavers coach Mike Riley said after the loss. "You are responsible for the ball as a quarterback but he was really, really, really rushed in there."
Mannion's passing yards contrasted to a poor performance on the ground by the Beavers, who rushed just 14 times for 47 yards.
Oregon State was without promising true freshman running back Malcolm Agnew, who missed his third straight game.
Agnew rushed for 223 yards in his debut, the Beavers' season-opening loss to Sacramento State, and was hailed as the heir apparent to Jacquizz Rodgers. He pulled his hamstring three days later and aggravated it last week.
Fellow freshman tailback Terron Ward gained 30 yards on five carries against the Sun Devils, including a 10-yard touchdown run.
Oregon State had Arizona State off balance early, going up 13-0 early in the second quarter. The Sun Devils bounced back with three unanswered touchdowns to lead 21-13 at the break.
The Beavers pulled within 21-20 on James Rodgers' 5-yard touchdown reception but ultimately couldn't tackle Cameron Marshall on a pair of late touchdown runs.
The Beavers (0-4, 0-2) are the only BCS team in the nation without a win. The start is their worst since 1996.
At the start of the season, junior Ryan Katz was Oregon State's starter and Mannion was his backup. But Katz only played a half of the opening loss to the lower-division Hornets, and he was in for only a limited number of plays in the 35-0 blanking by then-No. 8 Wisconsin.
Afterward, Katz said he was surprised by the shift, while Riley said the coaching staff had been closely watching Mannion's progress since the annual Spring Game and felt that the change was in order.
Overall this season, Mannion has thrown for 1,015 yards and completed 62.2 percent of this passes. He has thrown two touchdowns but he has five interceptions.
The Beavers are back home in Corvallis this Saturday to host Arizona (1-4, 0-3 Pac-12). The Wildcats have lost four straight, including a 48-41 defeat by USC this past Saturday.
The game figures to feature lots of passing, given the matchup between Mannion and Wildcats quarterback Nick Foles. Against the Trojans, Foles completed 41 of 53 passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns.
Mannion says all the Beavers can do is keep trying.
"You can't feel good about too much," he said after the latest loss. "You just have to learn from the bad, pull off the good, and we are all just going to keep working. That's all we can do now. Keep working and become a better team."