CORVALLIS — You can't beat the timing of Oregon State's bye week.
The Beavers are coming off a 44-17 win over Colorado and, for the first time this season, put together a pretty strong game on both sides of the ball.
It's a big lift for the team which has two weeks of practice before taking on Washington State in Pullman.
"It is great," coach Mike Riley said of going into the bye week after a win. "You have to think about all the scenarios. Everybody always wants you to think about winning, but I also have to be prepared for what if we don't and I can tell you this, it's a long two weeks if you've lost a game. So it's much nicer to come in after a win."
The defense came together for its best performance of the season, holding the Buffaloes to 124 total yards and three points through the first three quarters.
The Beavers sacked Colorado quarterback Connor Wood once but kept him under constant pressure and forced two interceptions. OSU also recovered two CU fumbles.
"I think it's a good confidence thing for that group in particular," Riley said. "I think there's no doubt about it, they know it and 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 because I think they feel it a little bit. I think we're better on the line, we're better on assignments, we're better in coverage. They're gaining some confidence, which will be important in getting better."
Typical big numbers were put up in the passing game by the Beavers' offense, but Riley pointed out that the engine wasn't exactly purring all game.
"We had 11 explosive plays, which is a lot in a game. Gains over 20 yards," Riley said. "So there was some really good football played, but it wasn't real crisp throughout. We had poor third-down percentage because we dropped some balls and we had more three-and-outs than we've had all year. We weren't perfect in the red zone. But the good thing is, I'll point that out to them and they'll get it."
Even so, Sean Mannion threw for 414 yards and six touchdowns and connected with Brandin Cooks nine times for 168 yards and two scores.
That keeps both players at the top of the NCAA.
"The number one stat you always have to keep in mind so you don't get mixed up in what you're trying to do is winning, and you have to look at what you need to continue to do to win or to improve your team," Riley said. "But that fact that we are throwing the ball and those guys are being productive, then that's an indicator that's all going pretty well."
The Beavers have spent the season banged up at a few positions but are on the brink of getting a few players healthy.
Now they have two weeks to heal up and get back to practice speed while some of the veterans can get some much-needed rest.
Riley said running back Storm Woods, fullback Tyler Anderson and linemen Grant Enger, Josh Mitchell and Gavin Andrews all have a chance to be back on the field soon.
"We are excited," Riley said. "We got to this point and won some games and we have a chance now to have additional linemen. We had guys that have stepped in and we have still been able to win, which is very, very good. And we should get stronger."