Four letters tell why the Beavs won: PAEA

CORVALLIS – Yes, the Beaver defense improved their play on Saturday, creating havoc aplenty for Arizona State QB Steven Threet in a 31-28 nailbiter win for the Beavs. But the real story behind the victory? That was All-America candidate and Oregon State DT Stephen Paea. Yes, on Saturday, the Beaver Faithful were all reminded just how dominant, and integral, Paea is to the Beavers.

Paea, who came into this season as a highly touted future first round draft pick, just hadn't had that "break out" performance through the first three games. That all changed Saturday afternoon.

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Reser Stadium and an FSN audience saw exactly what the experts have all been talking about.

The defensive front for OSU was shredded last week against Boise State and on the plane ride back, Paea had had enough. Paea, according to Paul Buker of the Oregonian, gathered the defensive line together on the plane.

"Enough talking, just do it, is all I'm trying to say," Paea said.

Simply put. And against ASU, the defensive line acted on his message. All game long, there was pressure on ASU QB Steven Threet from the Beaver defensive front.

BUT THERE'S THE thing not to be missed – A lot of that pressure, one whole heck of a lot, was directly and indirectly, caused by Paea.

Because if Paea wasn't getting through the offensive line, he was making room for somebody else to come downhill towards Threet. The strength, the quickness, the tenacity – it was all there to see.

Saturday wasn't just a Pac-10 win, it was a rebirth. The rebirth of a player with so much still-to-be-seen potential, a defenseman who has such an impact on whether the Beavs win or lose.

SURE, YOU COULD make the argument that Paea's presence has been there all year. But seeing him actually burst through the middle, or race around the end, to watch him show his grit and make plays d-tackles just don't make, it was nothing short of inspiring. Just having a presence isn't enough sometimes -- showing grit is, however.

What makes Paea unique is that, when a win is in question, he's one of the rare few amongst all the d-tackles in the game of college football, capable of becoming the tipping point.

AND MAYBE THE defensive secondary stepped up too on Saturday, holding the receivers in check long enough for the defensive line and Paea to break through. Yes, that is true. The secondary performed well. But what is also true is that the Beavers' six sacks, plus all the hard hits, well, that has a cumulative effect. That makes a QB wary, and it leads to hasty and bad judgment.

And Paea had two of those six sacks.

SPEAKING WITH Stephen Paea, it's hard to figure how such a soft-spoken young man can be so physical, how he can cause such nightmares for offensive lineman.

Check that -- ASU's linemen will have trouble sleeping on the plane at all after what Paea did to the, on Saturday.

But it's Paea's leadership and ability to look beyond his personal success – that's what also makes him special.

"We won, that's the only thing that matters in the end," Paea said simply.

No bravado. No chest thumping. No "me, me, me."

Just Paea.

CREDIT NEEDS TO go out to the OSU offense for playing a nearly flawless game -- to Ryan Katz, Jacquizz Rodgers plus the WR corps for stepping up in the absence of James Rodgers. And to the secondary, whose most notable member perhaps was CB James Dockery for coming up with two interceptions.

But in the end, it was Paea and Paea alone who was the biggest reason for the Beavers' win.

PAEA MADE IT downright difficult for a powerful ASU offense – one that moved the ball and gave Oregon everything it could handle the week before -- to score. And it was Paea who applied the pressure, that tipping point, that caused Threet to throw a questionable ball -- or five.

And at what point does Paea's pressure receive at least some credit for the defensive pressure as a whole, as well as the turnovers?

THIS IS NOT the best defense OSU has ever fielded. Hell, it's not even the best Beaver defense of the last five years. But it is time to step back and admire this player and this 2010 defense. Why?

Put another way, rather than look back and admire what OSU has had, it's time to look at what OSU has with Paea in 2010 and appreciate the heck out of it. Right here, and right now.

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