Oregon State comes home after slow start to season

CORVALLIS — Oregon State has become used to slow starts in recent years.

Last season the Beavers started 2-3 before finishing 9-4 with an Emerald Bowl victory. The Beavers were 2-3 after five games in 2006 but ended the season 10-4.

This season they're down 0-2, with losses at Stanford and Penn State. The good news is that they're finally at home Saturday for a game against Hawaii.

Coach Mike Riley understands his team might be down, but they've become adept at adjusting.

"Everybody starts off their seasons with high expectations and lots of visions in their head about who they're going to be," he said. "Then boom, you get some scare. You've got to get the Band-Aids out and you've got to go."

A lot of Band-Aids are in order after the last loss, a 45-14 drubbing by Penn State on national television last Saturday.

Oregon State has added incentive to work out its problems against Hawaii (1-1). Next up for the Beavers is top-ranked USC at Reser Stadium on Sept. 25. Then they're on the road against No. 22 Utah.

"There are no givens, but there are lessons to be learned about the fact if you are mentally tough, you do persevere and you do get better, then you can be a better team," Riley said.

OSU hasn't gone 0-3 to start a season since 1996.

Hawaii Coach Greg McMackin says he understands the position that Oregon State is in.

"We're going to play a good, hungry football team. They play USC after us and Utah after them," McMackin said. "I would think they are going to give us their best shot to take us out and we're going to give them our best shot. They are really in need of a win and we're in need of keeping our string going."

Hawaii (1-1) is coming off a 36-17 victory over Weber State.

The Warriors seem to have settled one of their issues going into Saturday's game: a starting quarterback.

Tyler Graunke emerged in Hawaii's victory against Weber State, rallying the Warriors from a 17-7 halftime deficit. He came off the bench to complete 13 of 20 passes for 218 yards and three second-half touchdowns.

Graunke earned Western Athletic Conference offensive player of the week honors.

Graunke backed up Colt Brennan for the past three seasons but was held out of the preseason because of academic issues. He will be the Warriors' third starting quarterback this season.

"Tyler has been doing his part, believe me, because I've been on him more than probably anybody has in his life," he said. "This whole process, I think, has made him a better person and it's made him a better football player."

On Oregon State's side, quarterback Lyle Moevao completed 25 of 41 passes for 250 yards against Penn State, and he was intercepted twice. The week before, Moevao threw for 404 yards and three touchdowns against Stanford.

Moevao said Oregon State's offense has yet to click.

"The main focus for us as an offense is for us to come in and keep the turnovers to a minimum, score a lot of points and put all of that together and not go on a rollercoaster like we have the last two games," Moevao said. "Then I think it will be really good overall for the team."

Oregon State leads the series over Hawaii 4-3. The Beavers defeated then-No. 24 Hawaii 35-32 on Dec. 2, 2006, the Warriors' last loss at Aloha Stadium.

Hawaii has never played at Reser Stadium.

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