THE ADENIJI/CANFIELD CONNECTION: Besides the Rodgers brothers former walk-on Damola Adeniji has, by far, been the most productive offensive player. He is the team's third leading receiver with 16 catches for 198 yards and one touchdown and is improving each and every game.
"I love throwing to him," quarterback Sean Canfield said. "I've never had the luxury of throwing to a guy who is 6'4" even in high school or anything like that.
"Over the weekend we did some good things and he was running some good routes and getting open. Any time you have a target like that it's not easy to miss."
THE "DO IT ALL" BROTHERS: Junior receiver James Rodgers is averaging 181.5 yards per game for all-purpose yards (Rec, PR, KR) which ranks first in the Pac-10 and ninth in the nation. His brother, sophomore Jacquizz Rodgers, is second in the conference at 153.3 and 23rd nationally. "Quizz" had 13 receptions against Arizona, tied for the second most in Beaver history, and leads the league with an 8.0 receptions per game average. James, however, leads the Pac-10 for receiving yards per game at 88.0.
CHANGES AT SAFETY?: For the first time this year sophomore Cameron Collins received the start over Lance Mitchell at safety against Arizona last weekend, but that didn't produce the results intended. Junior Suaesi Tuimaunei, also started, was burnt time and time again, missing a crucial tackle in the redzone late in the game and again giving up a deep pass for six.
If the end of the Arizona game was any indication there may be changes coming to the starting lineup in Tempe. Mitchell and Collins were the safeties during crunch time with Tuimaunei watching from the sidelines.
Tuimaunei is the team's third leading tackler with 24 tackles, Collins is fourth with 20 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and one pass breakup while Mitchell is fifth with 19 tackles, one interception and three pass breakups.
NOT SO GOOD: Oregon State is last in the Pac-10 for third down percentage defense allowing 43.1 (22-51) percent, sacks against (15) and tied for last with ASU for sacks (2). Those shocking numbers don't have linebacker David Pa'aluhi, who snagged a career high 12 tackles last week, down though.
"The effort is there right now," Pa'aluhi said. "I feel like pretty soon everything is going to click and we will start making more plays."
NOT ENOUGH BALANCE: Coach Mike Riley always preaches balance. Unfortunately the offense, in the last two games, has been anything but balanced as the passing yards are being racked up at a 3 to 1 rate.
"We've had a lot of good drives," Riley said. "We lead the league in first downs. We're pretty high in third down percentage, and we're high in red zone efficiency, but there's still something missing there.
Quarterback Sean Canfield has passed 92 times in the last two games. If he keeps that pace up up he will have attempted 502 passes by the end of the year.
"We need balance added to consistency of play," said Riley.
60 MINUTES: During the past two games the Beavers have laid an egg in a quarter. Against Cincinnati it was the second quarter. Versus Arizona it was the third quarter. On the road and in the heat the Beavers cannot afford to take a quarter off if they hope to win.
"There's some really good signs with this team, and we just have to play 60 minutes of football," coach Mike Riley said. "That's an old cliché, but it's really never more evident."
DECEPTIVE: The Beaver offensive line has given up a conference high 15 sacks, but Arizona State has grabbed a co-conference low two sacks. Could the offensive line be in for a break? Nope. The two sacks is a misleading statistic as the Sun Devils lead the conference in defense at 211.0 yards per outing, including a conference low 136.7 yards though the air. Plus, ASU has eight interceptions in just three games.
"The whole defense at Arizona State looks good and the front seven presents a lot of problems; whether they're playing straight up and their front four are coming after you, or whether they're blitzing," coach Mike Riley said. "Their linebackers are tremendously aggressive and gifted. First of all, we need to get all of our assignments right during the week, in order to block the right guy and to be able to adjust to what they do.
"Then physically, you have to play like crazy because it's a challenge not only to get it right but then do the job. This group provides us a tremendous challenge in that way."
TIME TO GET SERIOUS: For the past three seasons when the calendar turns to October is when the Beavers hit their stride. The team is 22-5 (82 percent) over the final three months of the season.
"We have to get better every week," cornerback Tim Clark said. "We're showing good improvement, but at the end of the day the only stat that counts is the win."
If the Beavers are to have a winning season they will have to knock off some excellent competition on the road. Current top 25 members USC, California and Oregon remain on the schedule, as do UCLA, Stanford and Arizona State – teams that are receiving votes for top 25 inclusion in the current polls.
"We have to get back to the basics even if it's just making everyone hustle to every play in practice," Clark says. "whatever it takes we have to get back to the basics and start pulling out wins."
WINNING SEASONS: If Oregon State can achieve a 7-5 regular season or better it would mark its fourth consecutive winning season – the longest streak since a five-year run from 1966-70. A streak that cornerback Tim Clark, the team's sixth leading tackler with 18 stops, wants to be a part of.
"We're not going to let anyone slack off anymore, no more jogging to plays, no more taking plays off, none of that any more," Clark said. "We're 2-2 and that's 50 percent. That's an `F' and we can't have that; that's not acceptable."
THIS LOOKS FAMILIAR: For the sixth consecutive season OSU has started the year 2-2, and in fact the last three years it has started 2-3. Despite that sobering statistic, Beaver Nation is cautiously optimistic - in the last three years of starting 2-3 the team has finished the season ranked with a bowl victory, but head coach Mike Riley says nothing is guaranteed.
"Just because the teams in the past have been here and were able to turn it around, doesn't mean it's automatically going to happen," Riley said. "It takes a lot of work, and there's a mental part that's important. You can't let discouragement or frustration become the key issue.
100-PLUS USUALLY A W: When a Beaver rushes for 100-plus yards it usually equals a victory. OSU has won 15 of its last 16 games when a rusher gains 100 – the only loss in that period was Oct. 2, 2008 at Utah (Jacquizz Rodgers 101 yds).
"We'd love to have about 100 yards from Quizz and about 60 more on the fly sweep from James," coach Mike Riley said. "That's a pretty good start to a day probably. I think we're getting some good fly sweep stuff, but we should have run it more, after we looked at the film."
STAYING POSITIVE: Head coach Mike Riley is beloved and mocked for his always optimistic outlook, but his optimism may be one of the key ingredients of turning a season around.
"If you blank out the negativity, and just go to work, then you have a chance. But that's all it is, a chance," Riley explained. "You have to get past that mental part first, to make it real."
HAS ANYBODY LOST MORE? The Beavers have lost 16 starters, six were drafted, on defense over the last two seasons. Those starters account for four of OSU's top 10 players for tackles for loss and two of the top four players for sacks.
With all that talent game, cornerback Tim Clark says the defense must get back to playing Beaver football.
"We need to play with a chip on our shoulder every play," Clark said. "We don't have certain guys that we used to have like (Al) Afalava and Victor Butler, Slade Norris. We don't have those guys any more to depend on so we have to depend on ourselves and until we've proven ourselves we have to play with that chip on our shoulder."