BY KERRY EGGERS/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/More discipline will be turnaround key for Beavers; 'savvy' Garretson takes over at QB

His team is 1-3, having lost to each of its FBS opponents. It's in the midst of a murderer's row five-game stretch of Pac-12 schedule, with opponents owning a combined 17-3 record — three of them ranked among the nation's top 20 teams. His quarterback is injured, perhaps lost for the season.

This is not where Gary Andersen wants to be as he moves toward the midway point of his third season at the Oregon State helm. He expected the Beavers to contend for a bowl appearance, to build on a pair of wins — including one in the Civil War — to end last season.

That hasn't happened.ANDERSEN

Andersen's mood as the Beavers prepare to face sixth-ranked Washington (4-0 overall, 1-0 in Pac-12 play) Saturday at Reser Stadium can be described by a plethora of adjectives. Disappointed, of course. Upset. Perhaps embarrassed.

But not defeated.

Andersen is more resolved than ever to right the OSU ship.

"I'm more driven for this place than I ever have been," he says. "I understand with the successes we're having or not having, people need to be held accountable. That's on us. But I'm going to continue to fight my ass off. That's never going to stop. I'm going to keep on swinging, and make sure it's done the right way.

"I want the kids to have success. I want Beaver Nation to be proud of what we're doing. We're going to get there. I'm as sure of it as I've ever been. But it's taking longer than anyone wanted."

• Andersen isn't upset with his players. He says he appreciates their attitude during practice last week after the 52-23 loss at Washington State.

"They're disappointed, too, but they're working hard," he says. "They'll keep doing that. I don't worry about these kids. They want to win. They're not delusional about where they're at. They're holding responsibility on themselves, which is good."

Andersen is holding himself accountable, too, as well as his coaching staff.

"I want to see us play disciplined football," he says. "That's on the damn coaches. We have to be more disciplined. We have to work our asses off not to have those big swings that come our way."

The coach mentioned a couple of examples from the Washington State game. One was the dropped snap on a punt that gift-wrapped a Cougar touchdown at the end of the first half, turning what was a competitive 21-9 game into 28-9 at the break. The other was the 57-yard touchdown pass by Luke Falk after the Beavers had sacked the WSU quarterback on back-to-back plays to force a third-and-22, with Wazzu leading 28-16 in the third quarter.

"You can't give good teams layups like that," he says. "We have to play smart, disciplined football. You have to make (opponents) earn their success."

Andersen believes the Beavers had more good plays on both sides of the ball against the Cougars than they had in any of the first three games.

"There are moments where we're putting it together," he says. "We're making some progress, even though it may not show on the scoreboard. But you have to be consistent. You have to do it for four quarters."

The three teams that have beaten the Beavers this season are solid. Minnesota is 3-0, Colorado State is 2-2 — with one of the losses 41-23 at No. 1-ranked Alabama — and WSU is 4-0.

"We've played some good teams, and we have better (opponents) coming up the next few weeks," Andersen says. "But they're not the New England Patriots.

"I think we're better than we've showed. I just want to see us get better, to get in position to compete with everybody on our schedule. If we want to get where we intend to in this league, we have to find a way to battle these good teams."

• Darell Garretson is now at the controls at quarterback, with Jake Luton down at least temporarily with a thoracic spine fracture. Garretson, a 6-foot, 210-pound senior, has plenty of experience. He started for parts of two seasons at Utah State before a transfer to Oregon State, and he was the starter for the first six games last season before sustaining a season-ending broken foot in a 19-14 loss at Utah.

"Darell is a savvy veteran," Andersen says. "He has been waiting for his opportunity. He's ready for it. He's excited. The guys will rally around him."

• One of the positive signs on the defense against Washington State was the play of safety Austin Hudson, who made 12 tackles — including 2 1/2 for losses — in his first career start. The 6-2, 215-pound junior transfer from South Florida teamed with true freshman David Morris to give the Beavers solidarity on the back end.

"Austin is a tough kid who knows how to play," Andersen says. "He was slowed by injuries in training camp, so he's a little behind. But he was good (against Wazzu), and he'll help us a lot the rest of the way."

• The Beavers took Friday through Sunday off. The OSU coaches hit the recruiting trail. Andersen was in Utah. Other coaches watched recruits in Florida, Texas and California.

Eight high school seniors have verbally committed, but the Beavers — who have 16 seniors on scholarship — can take a maximum of 18 to 20 players in the 2018 recruiting class. Andersen must put at least a couple of current walk-on freshmen on scholarship, including promising defensive end Jaelen Bush.

So the OSU coaches must be selective in the recruiting process. And they'll likely take at least a few graduate or JC transfers who can provide immediate help.

Five true freshmen have played this season — Morris, linebacker Kesi Ah-Hoy, receivers Isaiah Hodgins and Tino Allen and running back Calvin Tyler. Andersen believes he also has a strong nucleus of true freshmen who will redshirt this season.

"We're very young," he says. "We have some talented young players. We have to keep developing them and get them ready to play next year."

NOTES: Running back Thomas Tyner has missed the past two games with hamstring and hip injuries. If he can practice this week, he'll be in uniform Saturday. ... OSU coaches have heard nothing from the NCAA Eligibility Center on the eligibility of junior defensive tackle Craig Evans. It's looking more and more as if Evans — who played at Arizona Western last year after a transfer from Michigan State — won't be cleared academically until winter term. That would mean only one season of eligibility, though the Beavers would surely appeal for a waiver for a second year.

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