History suggests now is the time for Beavers to start winning.
CORVALLIS - Oregon State is off to its usual slow start and still as sure as ever - or at least the duration of the past two seasons - that a rebound is in short order for the Beavers.
"We're still optimistic," insisted OSU quarterback Lyle Moevao. "It's September ... this goes until January."
Well, yes, it could, though being winless through two games doesn't usually inspire the confidence that there's a New Year's Day bowl in the offing, even if OSU linebacker Bryant Cornell suggested to reporters this week that "10 and two isn't a bad season."
To even think along those lines makes Saturday's visit by Hawaii to Reser Stadium for OSU's home opener about as must of a win as there ever has been for the Beavers.
With top-ranked USC coming to Corvallis on Sept. 25, followed by a road trip to No. 22 Utah, a win by OSU on Saturday looks like the best (only?) way to avoid matching the 0-5 start of 1996, the last time the Beavers were even 0-3 to open a season.
Whoa, there: Who wants to look that far back? Or even ahead to what follows Hawaii?
"The sense of urgency is definitely here and I don't want to go oh and three," senior offensive lineman Adam Speer said. "We've got to get this win ... everyone knows we've got to get this win."
The Beavers are favored over the Warriors, 1-1 after being routed by Florida and rallying in the second half to overcome Weber State of the Big Sky. But wasn't OSU also a betting choice in the opener at Stanford, and isn't that result what put the Beavers in their current worriesome position?
Well, that and an inconsistent offense and an underperforming defense.
"Last year, it took a couple games to get the offense rolling and the defense to click," Speer recalled. "We better get it to click right about now."
Since Riley returned as head coach, his first season of 2003 was the best start for the Beavers as they began 5-1 on the way to an 8-5 record. In 2004, it was a 1-4 record that required concluding wins over Stanford and Oregon to reach 6-5 and a bowl game, followed by a 2-2 start to 2005 and then 2-3 records to begin each of the past two seasons. The Beavers couldn't rally to a bowl in 2005, finishing 5-6, but did it in style to finish 10-4 in 2006 and 9-4 last season.
Is another such turnaround in the offing? Are the Beavers ready to patent how they've done it, and do it again?
"You can use everything as a lesson but you have to understand that in those lessons, there are no givens," OSU coach Mike Riley said. "Those things happen through a lot of perseverance and mental toughness."
Two years ago, the 2-3 Beavers pulled out a win at Seattle over Washington to get back to .500. That was followed by a narrow win at Arizona before the upset of third-ranked USC in Reser Stadium.
Last year, the Beavers evened their record at 3-3 by dominating Arizona in Reser Stadium, then pulled the season's shocker by knocking off second-ranked California in Berkeley.
Notice the trend? The Beavers seem to get themselves righted by winning a game or two they should prevail in, and then knock off a ranked opponent as the momentum builds to erase those early stumbles.
Well, here's a game against Hawaii at home that the Beavers should win, and then a couple of opportunties for a dramatic victory, which beating USC at home or Utah on the road would be, right?
Certainly, the Beavers haven't decided they're done after two opening defeats.
"You've got to keep the faith and trust in people," senior cornerback Keenan Lewis said. "Don't give up, because when you give up, you lose."
The current Beavers don't recall any heart-stirring speeches or dynamic plays that they can trace as the ignition point for the reversals of fortune in recent seasons.
"It just started happening," Speer said. "Everything started working, everything came together. We converted third downs, the defense made their stops and we won.
"We played to our potential."
The current Beavers recognize they're not there yet.
"With the team we have, we're way better than we've shown," Moevao said. "I know we're a lot better than that. I know what these guys can do and this isn't half of what we can do."
More than anything, the coach said, is the actual doing on the field.
"The reason we were able to recover in the past couple of years is because we started playing better," Riley said. "The bottom line is playing better and that gives you the opportunity to win."
OREGON STATE VS. HAWAII
Saturday, 1 p.m. at Reser Stadium in Corvallis. TV: FSN. More coverage online at www.registerguard.com/blogs
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|Title Annotation:||Football College; Oregon State looks to end another slow start on Saturday at home against Hawaii|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Sep 12, 2008|
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