By Steve Mims

The (Eugene) Register-Guard

Next up

Oregon at No. 23 Stanford

When: 8 p.m. Saturday TV: FS1

Line: Cardinal by 10½

EUGENE — The first thing Braxton Burmeister learned about being a starting quarterback was to speak up.

Oregon was called for a false start on each of its first two plays when the linemen struggled to hear the true freshman quarterback.

“Sometimes you take those lumps with young guys being in there,” Oregon coach Willie Taggart said after No. 11 Washington State spoiled Burmeister’s starting debut with a 33-10 win over Oregon on Saturday night at Autzen Stadium.

Burmeister was looking at a first-and-20 situation before he had run a play.

“Once it started being an issue, after the second play, we told him he needed to be louder and after that he was loud enough for us to hear him,” Oregon center Jake Hanson said.

What was built up during the week as a quarterback competition between Burmeister and Taylor Alie to replace injured Justin Herbert never materialized, because Alie was ruled out Friday because of an undisclosed injury suffered Sept. 30 in Oregon’s 45-24 win over California.

Burmeister, who was on schedule to redshirt until both Herbert and Alie were injured against the Golden Bears, went 15-for-27 for 145 yards and a touchdown against the Cougars. He threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter.

“Braxton did some good things and some bad things,” Taggart said. “He did some things most freshmen do. I think this is a game he can learn a lot from. He got his first game out of the way and I think he’ll be better as we move forward. He needs a lot more help around him to continue to progress.”

Burmeister completed 6 of 7 passes in the first quarter, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Breeland that put Oregon ahead 10-7. Oregon had 113 yards in that quarter before totaling 164 while going scoreless during the final three quarters. Burmeister passed for 99 yards during that span.

“I thought he handled it pretty well,” Breeland said. “He was confident, not nervous. There were a couple issues we had when he wasn’t loud enough, but other than that, he did a great job.”

With injured senior Charles Nelson missing his third consecutive game and sophomore Dillon Mitchell out with a concussion, the Ducks were without their top two receivers.

Sophomore Brenden Schooler led the Ducks with five catches for 61 yards, including a 39-yarder in the fourth quarter. That was the only completion longer than 14 yards to a wide receiver.

“We’ve got to do a good job as coaches making sure those guys are sharp on their assignments and what they are supposed to do especially with a young quarterback,” Taggart said. “We have to make sure guys know exactly what they’re doing in order to help them. We had some mistakes like that tonight, especially with our young receivers. They’ll get better.”

All three wide receivers who had a catch for the Ducks are in their first season at the position. Schooler is a converted safety, and Taj Griffin — who had five catches for 29 yards — played running back last year. True freshman Johnny Johnson III had three catches for 17 yards.

“Braxton handled it well for a young guy coming in to play against a ranked team,” Griffin said. “Things will get better, but as a whole he stepped up to the plate.”

Taggart said he told the team in the locker room to keep believing in Burmeister with Herbert likely to miss at least another month with a fractured collarbone.

“He’ll go watch film and learn from it,” Taggart said.

Taggart said it was too soon to determine if Burmeister earned the starting job next week at Stanford or if Alie could challenge him for the job when healthy.

“We’ll evaluate the film and see where we go from there,” Taggart said. “Braxton is going to be better and we are going to go with the guy we have.”

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