Beavers say they'll 'bring it'
CORVALLIS — Two things are clear about Oregon State's recent change in head coaches:
• The players don't hold Gary Andersen's resignation against him.
• They are happy with the switch to Cory Hall.
At least that's the consensus as the Beavers (1-7 overall, 0-5 in Pac-12 play) try to make a major breakthrough with an upset of California (4-5, 1-5) in a 2 p.m. Saturday matchup in Strawberry Canyon.
Oregon State is coming off near-miss losses to Colorado and Stanford, the latter in which the Cardinal scored with 27 seconds left to escape Reser Stadium with a 15-14 win.
"Every game has been winnable, especially the last one," senior defensive end Titus Failauga says. "We went in there hot, ready to win. We were just itching for a victory.
"We want to win so bad. We're one and — what is it, seven? It's hard to have that on our backs. These next four games, we're going to bring it."
Since the Andersen regime began in 2015, Oregon State is 0-14 in road games.
"That's the past," sophomore linebacker Andrzej Hughes-Murray says. "We haven't won games on the road — OK, so what? No matter what, we'll go out there and fight.
"We're a different team than we were earlier this season. I've known all along this is what we could do. Now we're just doing it. Saturday, we'll put it all on the line. Cal has some weapons, but this is a team we match up well with. We're going to go out there and take the fight to them."
Hall is the third coach at Oregon State for Failauga, a senior from Waipahu, Hawaii, who spent his first two years under Mike Riley and his next 2 1/2 under Andersen.
"It's been difficult changing coaches," says Failauga, who has started five games this season and has 14 total tackles. "But 'Coach A' and Coach Hall have pretty similar schemes.
"Coach Hall added more juice to the team. He brings that fire. 'Coach A' was a good coach, too, but Coach Hall knows how to motivate the players and get us more interacting with the game."
Out of "10 or 11" scholarship offers, Hughes-Murray narrowed it down to Oregon State and California before choosing the Beavers.
"Coach A was the deciding factor," Hughes-Murray says. "Losing him was very rough for me. He was the biggest reason why I came here. Don't get me wrong — I love Oregon State, I love the university, I love Corvallis. The people here are great.
"But Coach A was the biggest reason why I came here. I put a lot of trust in that man. To see him walk away — that was pretty hard."
Neither Failauga or Hughes-Murray blames Andersen for his decision.
"He didn't quit on us," Failauga says. "He's a great guy. He did great things in the past for this program. This year, there was a lot of stress on him. When Coach A chose Coach Hall to replace him, I thought it was the best decision.
"I knew Coach Hall was a great coach, based on what I'd seen in him coaching the cornerbacks. He was great with them, interacting personally with them and keeping them in line. He has a lot of fire, and he brings the fire out in us. I love that about him. He's a good coach."
Hughes-Murray was especially close to Andersen, but there are no ill feelings that the coach chose to leave at midseason.
"I have nothing but love for Gary Andersen," the 6-2, 245-pound Federal Way, Washington, native says. "He is an amazing person. He wouldn't have left us if he didn't feel we were going to be in good hands with Coach Hall.
"He didn't betray us. He didn't walk out on this university. He felt it was necessary for us to take a step forward. If that's what he felt he needed to do, then he had to do it. I know he wouldn't have left us in bad hands."
Hughes-Murray has grown to appreciate Hall's vigor and coaching acumen.
"Coach Hall has been a refreshing change," Hughes-Murray says. "I don't know what it is about Coach Hall, but he brings out the best in us, which is what I love about him. A lot of the guys love him.
"I don't want to sound like I'm bashing Coach A, but Coach Hall is like a breath of fresh air. He has made things more competitive in practice. We get rewarded for big plays."
Hughes-Murray mentions the pro wrestling-style belt players don for big plays during games.
"Things like that don't seem like big things, but I guess you could say it's hip or cool, and maybe something different," he says. "It's another incentive competitors want.
"He makes us greedy. We want to always out-do our opponent. He's pushing us, but he's also giving us time to come together as a team."
Hughes-Murray came out of a projected redshirt year to play the final six games last season, starting four at outside linebacker. He began this season as an inside linebacker but moved back to the outside after two games, and has divided time with fellow sophomore Shemar Smith.
"I'm the guy who, if you tell me to do something, I'm going to do it," Hughes-Murray says. "I'm going to do everything I can to help this team win. If it means burning my redshirt year, that's what I'm going to do.
"I care a lot about this team and this university. When I go out there, I'm doing everything I can to help us win. That's honestly all I care about."
Hughes-Murray owns the most interesting name on the OSU team. His takes his surname from his mother (Michelle Hughes) and father (Jonathan Murray). But what about Andrzej?
"It's Polish," he says. "I have a lot of European family on my mother's side. My grandmother is from Germany, and my great-grandfather is from Poland."
Hughes-Murray intends for the Beavers to end the season on a high note.
"We don't want to do anything else but win these last four games," he says. "We expect to win every game the rest of the way."