Oregon State's Cyril Noland-Lewis celebrates after intercepting a Stanford pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Corvallis, Ore., Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez)
Timothy J. Gonzalez
October 02, 2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) Oregon State has this weekend off, something that has allowed the Beavers to rest up and reassess following the loss to Stanford in their Pac-12 opener.

Oregon State has gone 2-2 so far in its first year - a rebuilding year - under coach Gary Andersen.

''I think we are definitely improving in areas. We need to work hard to focus as coaches and players to improve in other areas. We're gaining ground,'' Andersen said this week on the Pac-12 coaches' teleconference. ''We're in a great conference, we understand that. You have to play at a very high level to be competitive, let alone win games in this conference.

''But these kids are working hard. We're a work in progress. We're going to continue to be a work in progress.''

So far the young Beavers have performed as expected. For Andersen's debut as head coach, Oregon State defeated Weber State 26-7 at Reser Stadium. The team fell 35-7 to Michigan at the daunting Big House in the second game before a 35-21 victory over San Jose State back at home.

The Beavers were admitted underdogs going into the game against Stanford, which was coming off a big win over USC the week before. Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan shook off an ankle sprain to throw for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

But Oregon State saw some good things from freshman quarterback Seth Collins, who passed for 275 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another score. His favorite target was Jordan Villamin, who caught seven passes for 138 yards.

Linebacker Caleb Saulo had a career-best 13 tackles and caused a fumble, one of two turnovers for the Beavers' defense.

Collins' progress this season has been steady. He has thrown for 581 yards and five scores overall. But he is also one of three quarterbacks in the league to have rushed for 100 yards in a game - and he's done it twice. Collins is averaging 76.5 yards on the ground per game, ranking him ninth in the Pac-12 among rushers.

With 306 total yards rushing over four games, he could easily break Don Shanklin's quarterback record of 630 yards during the 1994 season.

''For a freshman quarterback, I don't know what more you could ask for,'' Andersen said.

The coach, who came to Corvallis after Mike Riley took the top job at Nebraska, has installed a new offense and a new defense. Most notably, the Beavers have moved away from the pro-style that Riley ran to a spread offense. That's a heady responsibility for a team that had less than a dozen returning seniors on scholarship.

The Beavers play at Arizona next week. The Wildcats (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) fell 56-30 to UCLA last weekend, dropping Arizona out of the Top 25 while boosting the Bruins to No. 7.

The Beavers' bye came at a good time, Andersen said.

''It gives us a chance, to No. 1, recover a little bit. No. 2, it gives us a chance to go back to basics and fundamentals,'' Andersen said. ''It's important when we're a new offense and a new defense to not get ahead of ourselves as coaches. It allows us to take a step back and make sure that we're still focusing on fundamentals, techniques.''

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