Playing a complete game was needed and satisfying for the Oregon State football team.
When the Beavers defeated Pacific-10 Conference rival Arizona State 28-17 on Saturday night in Sun Devil Stadium, they began to turn into a complete team.
The defense came together and played as a unit, instead of as individuals. The offense continued its growth with improved pass protection, which led to better everything.
"That's something you need, especially in this conference," quarterback Sean Canfield said. "The conference is as talented as it has been. You need that balance, and we are getting to that point. We made enough plays on offense and the defense is doing their thing."
All aspects of the special teams played well. Punter Johnny Hekker and kicker Justin Kahut consistently hit the ball, while the coverage teams contained the talented Sun Devils.
James Rodgers gave the Beavers good field position on returns. His 33-yard punt return in the first quarter that set up a touchdown was a career long.
"We did a good job controlling the running game and we did not give them big plays in the passing game," coach Mike Riley said Sunday night. "Offensively, I thought we were opportunistic. When they made a mistake or we got field position, we got points. Then we made some smart plays with the kicking game."
Now the Beavers plan to clean up the leftover inconsistencies as the season goes on.
They have started games strong, outscoring the opposition 236-78 in the first quarter over the last 45 games. Opponents have scored only 10 points in the first quarter of the last six games.
Then they follow variations of one of two scripts. There's a lull in the middle of the game and the Beavers hope to hold on. Sometimes the defense does just that or the offense ends with a flurry.
Saturday's game used parts of both stories, but the lull is something the Beavers want to avoid.
The middle quarters are a crucial time. That's when a game can be put away or lost.
"We got off to a quick start, but in the second and third quarters we didn't do much," Canfield said. "We have to fix that, and keep it going and put the pressure on them."
Riley expects those lapses with the offense to go away as the team, particularly the offense line, improves.
"A lot of it's execution and a lot of it caused by the other team," he said. "It's a goal to be consistent, but then you put too much pressure on yourself. When it happens you have to stick with it. And I was proud of how we came back."
There were no major injuries to come out of Saturday's game. Outside linebacker Keaton Kristick aggravated his stinger from the previous game, so he's getting an MRI as a precautionary measure.
"I anticipate everything is going to be OK," Riley said.
Cornerback Tim Clark needs four teeth pulled, but that will be done during the bye week after this week's home game against Stanford.
Backup running back Ryan McCants (knee) begins work with the scout team this week in preparation for a return after the bye at Southern California on Oct. 24.
Wide receiver Darrell Catchings (ankle) remains out this week with the earliest return at USC.
"Darrell is quite a ways away," Riley said. "We'll go week to week with that. That high ankle thing, it seems like it's three times as worse as a normal sprain."