TSX INSIDE SLANT: This week with Oregon State

THE MOST CONSISTENT thing about Oregon State (4-4, 3-2 Pac-10) is the inconsistency of the Beavers. They're at .500 entering the final four games of the season because they've gone 2-2 in the past month after going 2-2 in the first four games. The Sports Exchange examines that trend and more..

Oregon State upset Arizona on the road with their best passing game of the season, then faltered at Washington. They put up a dominating performance against Cal, then regressed across the board in falling 17-14 at UCLA.

The inconsistency of the offense is best illustrated by the second half of the loss at UCLA. On the opening drive of the half, the Beavers went 80 yards in nine plays to take a 14-7 lead and seemingly establish control. Not quite. On four subsequent possessions in the second half, Oregon State gained a total of 29 yards in 12 plays, never once recording a first down before they had to punt.

"We got a lot of things we need to fix offensively," running back Jacquizz Rodgers said. "We need to be more consistent offensively."

And in defending the run and tackling quarterbacks and ...

Is this a team headed for its eighth bowl game in nine years, or is Oregon State destined to be stuck at home for the holidays for the first time since 2005?

The good news is that Oregon State's next game is at home against Washington State, and three of the final four games are at home. The bad news: After the Cougars, the Beavers play USC, at Stanford and Oregon, a trio of teams that are 23-4 with two of the losses to the undefeated Ducks.

"The only thing we're going to try to do is win the next game," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "We were striving to be somewhat consistent and obviously we fell off that. We didn't capitalize on the improvement we made from last week's game. We're just going to go back and win the next game, that's all we've got to do. We're not going to talk about any ramifications or look back at what might have been."

NOTES, QUOTES
--Oregon State's 14 points against UCLA were its fewest in a Pac-10 game since a 24-3 loss at USC in 2007. It was also the fewest points this season for the Beavers, who earlier played two of the nation's better defensive teams in TCU and Boise State. Oregon State's 267 yards of total offense against the Bruins were the fewest by the Beavers against a Pac-10 opponent this season.

--RB Jacquizz Rodgers not only had his lowest rushing total of the season with 63 yards against the Bruins, but it was the first game this season in which he didn't rushed for a touchdown.

--Oregon State had another turnover-free game, its sixth in seven games this season. The Beavers still haven't lost a fumble, and three of their four interceptions came in one game. They also had an interception against the Bruins, making the Beavers plus-10 in turnover margin this season.

EMERGING:
WR Markus Wheaton -- Wheaton had five receptions for 44 yards and sprinted past UCLA defenders to get himself wide open for a deep pass on Oregon State's first offensive play, only to have the football overthrown. Wheaton also continues to make his presence known in the running game, taking a reverse 22 yards for a touchdown against UCLA.

KEEP AN EYE ON:
H-back Joe Halahuni -- Halahuni, who plays the receiving tight end position in Oregon State's offense, is doing just that. He had another five receptions against UCLA, giving him 24 this season, 18 of those in the Beavers' five conference games. His 28-yard touchdown catch against the Bruins was a highlight play, as he had to twist his body to get in position to make the catch. His five touchdown receptions lead the team.

QUOTE TO NOTE:
"It was like pulling teeth out there." -- Oregon State coach Mike Riley, on the way his team struggled in the 17-14 loss to UCLA.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: Oregon State's kickoff and punt coverage units and return units continue to be a strength of the team. The return game is particularly notable since the team lost James Rodgers, one of the nation's top returners. But Jordan Poyer returned two punts for 27 yards against UCLA and also had a kickoff return of 26 yards. The punt coverage team downed four of Johnny Hekker's punts inside the 20-yard line and allowed one return for 1 yard. The kickoff coverage unit limited UCLA to an average of 24 yards on three returns.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The offensive line had another poor outing against UCLA's active defense. Not only was quarterback Ryan Katz sacked three times, but he was forced to scramble on six other occasions when his quickness allowed him to avoid lost yardage, though his nine total carries netted 10 yards. There were also few openings for running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who had his lowest rushing total since 2008 with 63 yards on 14 carries, and that included one run of 24 yards.

ROSTER REPORT:
--The Beavers only got a limited amount of snaps from starting slot back Jordan Bishop, bothered by a sore shoulder, and he had no receptions against the Bruins. He remains questionable for Saturday against WSU. It was particularly notable in the intermediate passing game, with Bishop not able to provide the physical receiver the Beavers are used to having at that position.

--Oregon State is getting thin on defensive tackles. With Castro Masaniai already out due to a shoulder injury, the Beavers lost senior starter Brennan Olander to a possible pectoral muscle injury against UCLA. That left it to Kevin Frahm and Stephen Paea to play almost all of the snaps in the second half, when the Bruins controlled the football for almost 21 of the 30 minutes with their running game. OSU will be without Olander against WSU, and possibly for the rest of the regular season.

--Starting TE Brady Camp was given the clearance to start running and conditioning last week after missing a month with an ailing back. He could soon return to actual practices. Riley hinted he might be available for Saturday.


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