Defensive futility started to frustrate the Oregon State football team.

For four games it couldn't put the pass rush, run defense and pass coverage together.

The Beavers kept working at getting better, and finally combined everything last Saturday when they defeated Arizona State.

"I felt in the (Arizona) game (two weekends ago) we took steps back, and weren't able to grow in the scheme," defensive coordinator Mark Banker said. "This last game, it felt like we got on track a little bit. We'll learn from it and now go prepare for the next one."

So Banker was asked if the defense had finally turned the corner?

He laughed and asked how many corners are there on a building.

"When you have a crew that's inexperienced, there's always the next game (looming)," Banker said. "It's a matter of consistency. That's what will do it for you in the games."

The Beavers found out what they are capable of in a Pacific-10 Conference victory over the Sun Devils. Now they have to do it again, against Stanford on Saturday afternoon in Reser Stadium.

Players say they know the scheme; it's just a matter of learning how to play within their roles, fast and off each other.

And it's getting there.

The last two home games have ended in defeat, so the Beavers would like to change that trend. A win here would give them two in a row headed into a midseason bye week.

"It feels pretty good to be coming off a win," coach Mike Riley said. "It's good to win, but now we have to follow that up with another one and get some momentum."

Stanford (4-1, 3-0) is a running team with the second-best rush offense in the conference and 12th in the nation. It also boasts the leading ball carrier in the Pac-10.

Running back Toby Gerhart averages 130 yards a game. The Beavers (3-2, 1-1) expect to see him running at them much of the game.

The Beavers are 12th in the nation at stopping the run with an 87.4-yard average. Since they have only three quarterback sacks for minus-16 yards, which figures into the rushing totals, they have a truly stout run defense.

That matchup comes to the forefront this week. And with the way the game played out for the Beavers last week, that's a good thing.

"Last game we were able to get a better formula going," Riley said of the defense. "The first part of it was controlling the run, which puts you in a position to blitz, stunt and get pressure. That was a key factor in how we played defense."

The defensive line pressured the quarterback better, which helped the pass defense. There must be more improvement there because Stanford has allowed only three sacks in five games.

Arizona State's offense fell into a mostly pass approach, which let the linemen get after the quarterback. The secondary held up against the 58 pass attempts.

The Beavers did allow 338 passing yards, but no pass play for longer than 29 yards. The secondary eliminated the big play, picked off a pass and broke up four.

"It felt good out there, and now we have to build on it," safety Lance Mitchell said. "The secondary is in a learning experience and we have to learn on the run."

Stanford starts a redshirt freshman at quarterback, Andrew Luck. He works behind a big offensive line and his stellar rushing offense helps keep the pressure off him.

If the Beavers can stop the run and put pressure on the rookie, the game could be a replay of the Arizona State game.

At least, that's their hope.

"We are excited about it," linebacker Keaton Kristick said of facing Stanford. "It's an opportunity to play a tough team and see where we are at."

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