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From a Sunday conversation with Oregon State coach Mike Riley, whose 3-1 Beavers travel to Boulder for a 1 p.m. Saturday matchup with Colorado …


• In the 35-10 loss at Southern Cal Saturday night, Sean Mannion completed 15 of 32 passes for a career-low 123 yards and snapped a 37-game streak of throwing for 200 yards or more. The 6-5, 230-pound senior's previous career low passing yardage was 143 in his college debut against Sacramento State in 2011.

Mannion was clearly off his game, and it got worse as the game wore on. The school record-holder in career passing yardage was 4 for 13 passing for 16 yards in the second half before being removed for backup Luke Del Rio on the Beavers' final possession.

Oregon State managed only 181 yards total offense, including 35 after intermission.

A big part of the problem was the absence of the Beavers' top two flankers and two biggest deep threats -- Victor Bolden and Rahmel Dockery -- due to injury. USC defenders pressed the OSU receivers and did an excellent job of coverage, often leaving Mannion with nobody to whom to throw.

"It was really hard," Riley said. The Trojans "blanketed our guys pretty well. Sean didn't have a lot of open receivers a lot of the time."

• Mannion's two interceptions were major plays in the game's outcome.

The first one came late in the first quarter, when SC linebacker Su'a Cravens stepped in front of OSU tight end Connor Hamlett on a flat route, picked off the pass and returned it 31 yards for a score. Richard Mullaney was running a curl on the play.

"Sean has to own that one," Riley said. "If he'd let the curl develop for one more second, he'd have had Richard open."

The second one came with the Beavers trailing 14-10 but driving for a go-ahead touchdown late in the first half. On first-and-10 from the USC 22, Mannion launched a pass to the corner of the end zone for redshirt freshman Jordan Villamin. Villamin and a defender jumped for the ball and the ball was tipped into the hands of SC's Leon McQuay for a pick and a touchback.

"I don't fault Sean for taking the shot to Villamin," Riley said. "But Storm (Woods) was running a wheel route on the play and was open. He'd have had a touchdown if Sean had gone to him."HAWKINS

• In the absence of Bolden and Dockery, true freshman Xavier Hawkins was activated. The 5-7, 170-pound native of Knoxville, Tenn., didn't play a lot and had a rough debut, catching no passes and losing a combined eight yards on a pair of fly sweeps.

"But I'm glad we have Xavier playing now," Riley said. "We'll need him. He has speed, he's a good kid and he's going to be a really good player for us. We'll get him into the swing of things, and when we get (Bolden and Dockery) back, we'll have three flankers, and we'll use them."

Chances that Bolden -- who underwent surgery for a pinkie finger dislocated in the 28-7 victory over San Diego State on Sept. 20 -- will be available at Colorado are "minimal," Riley said. "It's possible he could play. He'll be able to run in practice this week, but he won't get his sutures out until Thursday, so he won't be able to catch any balls until then."

Dockery (hip pointer) is expected to practice Monday and should be able to play against the Buffaloes.

"We'll work with the receivers we have and get things more in alignment and go from there," Riley said.

• Mullaney caught five passes for 78 yards -- all in the first half -- but no other receiver totaled more than 17 yards. Hunter Jarmon, who caught five passes against the Aztecs, had one reception for six yards vs. USC. Tight ends Hamlett and Caleb Smith combined for two catches for six yards.

"Hunter was open a few times," Riley said. "We tried to get the ball to him. We have to get the tight ends and the backs more involved in the passing game, that's for sure."

• Riley's view on the Trojans' 48-yard "Hail Mary" pass from Cody Kessler to Darreus Rogers to end the first half:

"We were misaligned. We had a couple of new guys in because of injuries (to regulars). We ended up being screened out on the back line, and our front-line guys were not in great position. That play gave (the Trojans) momentum and had a lot to do with what happened the rest of the game."

The Trojans, facing fourth-and-15 at the OSU 48, let the clock run down from 37 seconds to one second before calling timeout prior to the Hail Mary play. Riley didn't call timeout to preserve the clock "because you run the risk of giving them more plays if they get a first down. They weren't that far from field-goal range, for one thing. Better give them one shot than give them a chance for three or four more plays."

• Southern Cal had only seven first downs, 13 yards rushing and 147 yards total offense until the final play of the half. The Trojans gained momentum from the "Hail Mary" and were much more effective in the running game in the second half.

Riley recalled a comment by the coach during his playing days at Alabama, Bear Bryant.

"Coach Bryant used to say the most important parts of a game were right at the end of the first half and right at the start of the second half," Riley said. "That was the case Saturday. Our guys played some terrific defense much of the way, but that's what happens when you don't respond offensively. (The Trojans) are a good team. They have a lot of players. They're eventually going to make some plays. Their ground game, in particular, took off, and they controlled the second half."

• After his 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter, OSU's Ryan Murphy was flagged for an excessive celebration penalty. Riley said he didn't see Murphy's celebration on game video but wishes the rule were enforced only for taunting.

"I'm totally against taunting," the OSU coach said. "I thought that was supposed to be the emphasis for that call. Being happy is another thing. I don't see anything wrong with that."

Riley went through the application process to become a member of the NCAA football rules committee during the last offseason but was not chosen.

• Defensive tackle Jalen Grimble was off to his best game of the season with a pair of tackles, including a sack, when he exited late in the first half with an ankle injury. Grimble started the third quarter but quickly injured a knee and departed for the rest of the game. OSU coaches will view results of an MRI on the knee Monday.

"It doesn't sound too bad," Riley said. "Jalen probably won't play this week, but I'm hoping it's not long-term. He was playing real well" against the Trojans.

• The Beavers also will learn the results of an MRI on the injured knee of reserve D-tackle Noke Tago on Monday. Tight end Kellen Clute (hip), who didn't play against USC, should be available Saturday at Colorado.

• Riley said his Monday message to the OSU players would be simple.

"We lost a game," Riley said. "Let's not let that game beat us in the next game. It's a long season. We have one loss. It's going to be the kind of (Pac-12) season where just about anything can happen in any game. My guess is, everybody is going to have a loss in there. Let's minimize this one and make sure we do everything we can to win the next game."

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