Bye the bye, for Oregon State...

CORVALLIS - Saturday's rout of Colorado was just what the doctor ordered. The 44-17 win effectively put the Beavs in great shape heading into a bye week -- and in looking ahead to their second road series of the 2013 season with trips to Washington State and Cal.

Oregon State feels like they're in the driver's seat.

"I think (the bye) is perfect timing for this team right now," said Mike Riley. "We can slowly work some guys back into playing football – Gavin Andrews and (Grant) Enger – there are some guys that can get some extra work. Then we can get some of our older players some rest. Guys like (Brandin) Cooks and some of the other linemen that have been playing a lot.. then hopefully be stronger going into the next part of the season."

And OSU comes out of these first five weeks with a lot of confidence – Riley and his staff put together a four game winning streak despite a tattered, ever shifting O-line plus poor defense at times exacerbated by a relatively young and inexperienced linebacker corps.

Yet OSU is 2-0 in conference play and have two weeks to prepare for a now-struggling WSU squad that got beat up against Stanford. And the Cardinal didn't beat the Cougars with the run, they beat them, soundly, with the pass.

ALSO ALLURING IS the prospect that OSU should have Tyler Anderson and Storm Woods back in action by the time the bags will be packed for a trip to Pullman. Riley is also hopeful that Andrews and Enger will return to the o-line in the next few days. That could mean more time in the pocket for Sean Mannion and more muscle behind a flat Beaver ground game, courtesy of the collective 616 pounds of force represented by Enger and Andrews.

"I don't think it's just ‘abracadabra.' we're going to become a good running team, but it's nice to have some more pieces back." Riley said of the eventual returns.

AND THE WIN over Colorado was a game in which Mark Banker's defense finally seemed to find its stride, and it couldn't have come at a better time. OSU can spend the next two weeks going over what worked and implementing that for the future opponents.

"I think it's a good confidence thing for that group in particular," Riley said. "I think that there is no doubt about it – they know it, everybody knows it- that we've gotten a lot better since that first game. That is, in itself, a very good thing for us.

"I'm anticipating them wanting to continue to grow - I think that they feel it a little bit. We definitely were better in the line, we're better on assignments, we're better on coverage. They are gaining some confidence which will be important to getting better."

Defensively, OSU suddenly looked to be in mid-season form, (and called to mind the mid-season form of 2012 as well), certainly much better than they had in the first four tilts. The D-line was swift into the opposing backfield and CU quarterback Connor Wood barely had time to breathe on some plays, let alone throw.

Ryan Murphy and Rashaad Reynolds both notched interceptions, bringing OSU's total to eight on the season and officially ranking Oregon State atop the Pac-12 stat sheet in that category and in a tie for eighth nationally.

"I think it's big," Riley said. "Turnovers are just huge and one of the key elements in football is the turnover ratio when you look at victories. Usually the team wins the turnover battle and they win the game. If you can stay a good plus side of that ratio, then you are probably a winning team."

OFFENSIVELY THE BEAVS have a thoroughly stocked cupboard starring Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks (enough said), emerging threats in Connor Hamlett, Caleb Smith and Richard Mullaney, and a decent O-line that is sure to get better with the return of Enger/Andrews.

After the roller coaster of the first four weeks, it's hard not to qualify some of the optimism right now if you're a Beaver fan. But I feel as if this team is sitting relatively pretty after Week Five, all things considered. What will the Beavs work on over the next two weeks in order to ensure that minimal rust accumulates during the bye?

"I've really encouraged our coaches to look at what we need to improve, what we need to add, what do we need to work with individuals on?" Riley said. "We have to make a laundry list of things that we want to accomplish here so that we are better in this next stretch of the season."

Colorado was expected to deliver unto Oregon State a close, high scoring game. And OSU has every right to have a little swagger going into this week's slate of practices. But the big question here is whether or not Oregon State can keep up the pace with the daunting prospect of two straight conference road games looming over their program? I'm cautiously optimistic.

Riley said they will do a little WSU prep this week, but the bulk of it will be as it normally is – during game week. Cal, he said, isn't even a blip on the radar of the OSU coaching staff at this point.

But the big takeaway is that OSU is in great position to hit the road next weekend with poise and precision in mind, taking a healthy, well rested team on the road to Pullman and beyond.

BeaverBlitz Top Stories