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APTOPIX Oregon St Colorado Football

Colorado wide receiver K.D. Nixon, left, is tripped by Oregon State safety Jeffrey Manning Jr. during the first half last week. After a big first half, Nixon was held in check as the Beavers rallied from down 31-3 for a 41-34 overtime win.

Sure, Oregon State gave up 536 total yards of offense last week at Colorado.

But the Beavers’ much-maligned defense played one of its best games overall and showed that progress is being made after holding the Buffaloes to a field goal over the final 29 minutes of what turned out to be a thrilling 41-34 overtime victory.

“I think the biggest thing is we played much better run defense,” defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar said. “I thought overall we were more gap sound, guys were able to get some knock back at the line of scrimmage and we were able to get into the backfield more than we have all season long. Then I thought it was our best game as far as tackling goes.”

The Beavers finished with six tackles for loss resulting in minus-18 yards. Hamilcar Rashed had three of the tackles for loss and Isaac Hodgins the lone sack.

Outside of allowing a 75-yard touchdown run to start the third quarter, the Beavers gave up just 142 rushing yards on 35 attempts. Some of those yards came when quarterback Steven Montez scrambled to avoid the pass rush.

“Those are the things we got something we can build off of,” Tibesar said. “We’re still a work in progress and still have to try to get that consistently for four quarters game after game. But we showed glimpses of what we can be.”

So what changed after the long touchdown run?

Not really a whole lot.

“I think our guys just kind of kept swinging and kept trying to fight through and just one play a time,” Tibesar said. “You stack one good play on top of another good play and then our offense started moving the ball. I think it was really big that our offense, after we gave up the 75-yard touchdown, took the ball, long drive, went all the way down and scored a touchdown to give some hope to the team.”

Added linebackers coach Trent Bray: “Guys were just on their work. They were covering the right guy, getting the right drops, in the right run fits. That’s really all it was.”

It was good film to watch with the players, Bray said.

“It was good to see that we’re not that far away and it’s not that big of a gap between playing really well and playing very poorly,” he said. “It’s really just being in the right spot, knowing you’re assignment, reading your keys and going.”

Maybe the most impressive part of Saturday’s game was the way the defense never gave up, especially after the long touchdown run.

“That was extremely encouraging, the kind of heart and character our guys showed,” Tibesar said. “That’s probably the biggest thing even more than the technique and playing good defense, the character that we’re down 28 points and our guys didn’t give up.

“… When they show that kind of heart and character that they’re going to keep fighting through adversity, that’s definitely something we can build off of from here and continue to harness.”

While the players had a little extra bounce in their step this week in practice and a renewed energy for the final four games, beginning with Saturday’s 7 p.m. home contest against USC, there is plenty of room for continued improvement.

“Now everybody is clicked in, locked in and trusting the process that coach (Jonathan) Smith has been saying since Day 1, believe in your teammates,” safety Jalen Moore said. “Slowly but surely it’s a process. We’ve just got to keep working and hopefully this game we get a win and just keep working hard.”

Quarterback update

Smith said on Thursday quarterback Jake Luton should be good to go and would start Saturday's game. Conor Blount has yet to clear concussion protocol.

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Sports Editor

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald