CORVALLIS — The pendulum that Oregon State's football season has become swung back toward the defensive side Saturday.
After racking up over 600 yards and outscoring Arizona a week earlier, the 14th-ranked Beavers' offense went in fits and starts but the OSU defense kept Washington State out of the end zone in a 19-6 Pacific-12 football victory at Reser Stadium.
Prior to its win at Arizona, Oregon State had tallied another offense-heavy win at UCLA after the season had opened with a 10-7 home victory over Wisconsin.
That seesaw left a number of Oregon State players speculating on what it might look like if the Beavers put it together on both sides of the ball on the same day.
"We have so much potential to win every game on our schedule," said defensive end Scott Crichton, who had three sacks against the Cougars. "We haven't played as a whole team yet because either the offense or defense carries us in each game. Once we finally play as a team, you guys are in for something great."
OSU head coach Mike Riley said the Beavers are certainly pointed toward that goal, but he's also been around the sport long enough to appreciate the manner in which the Beavers have won their first four contests.
"Every game has its own personality," Riley said. "So if you get in a game like this, somebody has to pick it up if somebody is struggling.
"It's football, and it's not always going to be like you'd like to write it up. But it sure would be nice if we held the other team to 100 (yards) and we got 700."
Riley was asked if he likes playing so many close games with as many young players as the Beavers have. That drew a laugh from reporters, but it wasn't a comedic query and Riley didn't treat it as such.
"Looking back, it will be good for these guys to know there are all different ways you can come out of these and win games," Riley said. "I don't know if that makes any sense at all, but "…
"Whatever form the game takes, that's the game you're in. You may not really like it; I didn't really enjoy that first half, but that's where we were. So we were going to have to do something about it and I thought we did a little bit. We played better and they made enough plays to win the game even though you wouldn't want to script something like that."
So how do you script it the way you want it?
"Well, you just practice and prepare and do it and execute it," Riley said. "The problem is, the other guy is trying to do the same thing. He wants to be disruptive. You have to be better at it and make plays."
DRIVE TIME: For all the struggles the Beavers had offensively, they put together crucial drives when they had to have them. The first came to open the third quarter, when the Beavers went 75 yards in 10 plays to take a 13-3 lead; the other was midway through the fourth quarter, OSU marching 86 yards in 12 plays to go in front 19-6 and make it a two-score game with just over 5 minutes left.
Riley called both those drives "huge."
"To come back and say, 'Hey, we can do this, if we just play and don't mess it up, we can do this,'" Riley said. "I thought Washington State played hard and played well. But I also thought we were, many times, our own worst enemy."
The drive in the third quarter was particularly big, giving OSU's defense a bit of a cushion to work with.
"It was a huge drive for us," OSU wide receiver Markus Wheaton said. "Our defense had been playing great all game and we struggled a bit on offense. Our missed assignments killed us so that third quarter drive was huge for us."
FLAG DAY: When Oregon State goes to work getting ready for Brigham Young, an area of emphasis will be eliminating penalties. Against WSU, the Beavers were flagged 11 times for 110 yards; they entered the game averaging nine penalties for 86.3 yards per game.
"Some of them are inexcusable — those celebration-type deals or whatever," Riley said. "We can't have any of that. And then holding penalties, we'll have to evaluate each one of them. The pass interference, it's the same way.
"We had so many penalties in the first half offensively you couldn't have any kind of flow to a drive. You'd get a play, have a penalty, bring it back, and it's first-and-20. Those are hard to keep overcoming, and we didn't. That's why the game was where it was. We've got to clean it up."
STORM WATCH: At Arizona, Oregon State freshman running back Storm Woods had burst on the scene with a 161-yard rushing effort. Against WSU, he was limited to 54 yards on 15 carries.
"It was frustrating today not getting my yards," Woods said. "But it's not about me. It's about the team and we won, so it's okay."
Woods was forced from the game in the first half with a stinger in his shoulder but returned. His absence gave sophomore Malcolm Agnew a chance to get the ball, and Agnew rushed for 44 yards on 10 carries.
Fullback Tyler Anderson added a 25-yard run — OSU's longest of the season — to convert a crucial third-and-one on the Beavers' final scoring drive. As a team, the Beavers rushed for 100 yards, putting them in triple digits on the ground for the third straight week.
THIS AND THAT: Oregon State's 4-0 start marks the first time the Beavers have won their first four games since the 2002 season. The last time the Beavers were 5-0? Try 1939, when they won their first five games en route to a 9-1-1 record "… OSU's last four-game win streak came in 2009 when it beat UCLA, California, Washington and Washington State "… Washington State continues to lead the all-time series with OSU by a 48-46-3 margin, but the Beavers have now won nine of the last 13 meetings "… Saturday's sellout crowd of 46,579 was the largest ever to see a game at Reser Stadium, topping the 46,469 on hand for the 2010 Civil War "… Poyer's three interceptions tied the second-most for a single game in OSU history. Linebacker Steve Brown picked off four against Stanford in 1971. The last Beaver with three interceptions in a game was Mitch Meeuwsen against WSU in 2003 "… The last time the Beavers held a team without a touchdown came in the 2008 Sun Bowl, a 3-0 Oregon State win "… OSU celebrated the 60th birthday of mascot Benny Beaver, who debuted during the 1952 season. The first Benny, Ken Austin, was honored at the game. Austin and his wife, Joan, founded and own A-dec, the Newberg-based company that is one of the world's leading manufacturers of dental equipment.