Oregon State quarterback Chance Nolan left Saturday’s 42-16 loss to Utah after the first quarter. He was taken to the locker room for what the team called a “precautionary evaluation” and was later ruled out with a neck strain after a hard tackle.

Ben Gulbranson closed out the game for the Beavers, but several were wondering if the quarterback change was prompted more by play than by availability. The last we saw Nolan, he missed a fourth-down throw that ended the Beavers’ fifth drive on downs.

Oregon State had five first-quarter possessions. One produced a touchdown after seven plays and 79 yards. The other four featured 12 total plays, 38 total yards, two interceptions, one three-and-out, and a turnover on downs.

After the game, Beaver coach Jonathan Smith said the quarterback change was 100% a result of injury.

Nolan’s status will be worth monitoring going forward. Gulbranson was believed to be the No. 3 quarterback, with Tristan Gebbia — a team captain — battling Nolan for the starting job during training camp. But Gebbia was left on the sideline altogether Saturday while Gulbranson finished 12-of-20 for 177 yards and two interceptions.

That makes eight interceptions thrown by the Beavers in the last two games. They lost 17-14 to USC at home last Saturday in part because of four giveaways by Nolan.

It has been a rough go of things late for the Oregon State starter after he opened the new season in such a positive way. Through the first three weeks, Nolan had seven touchdown passes against only two interceptions. In his last two games, he has no touchdowns and six interceptions.

Nolan finished Saturday’s game 2-for-7 for 26 yards.

Oregon State (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12) plays Stanford on the road next Saturday at 8 p.m. PT on ESPN.