By Kevin Hampton

Corvallis Gazette-Times

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No. 20 Stanford at Oregon St.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

TV: ESPN Line: Cardinal by 23

CORVALLIS — Manase Hungalu knew exactly what he had to do when he heard the news that Gary Andersen was leaving Oregon State.

Hungalu, a senior inside linebacker, realized many of his teammates had not known another head coach for the Beavers.

So Hungalu was determined to be an emotional leader in a time of need. His first action was to bring a bunch of players together for a meeting.

“Some guys kind of just felt like they didn’t know what to do, they were just going to go play,” Hungalu said. “But I got them together and just sat down and said, ‘Here, this is what we’re going to do. We need this happening. A lot of us, this is our last year, so either we can just sit around and pout about the whole situation or we can actually go back and win.’

“We kind of all sat around and talked about it and since then you see it in practice, you see it in meetings, everybody just stepped up and the leaders that I expected to lead are doing a great job of leading now.”

Hungalu has been immune to the setbacks that have hit the Beavers this season. And it would be easy to let negative thinking creep in, but Hungalu has stayed steady for his teammates.

“First of all, I want to be able to lead these guys the right way,” he said. “There’s times where I think about situations where we’re kind of in this tough spot, there’s nothing I can do and I should just start focusing on myself, but that’s not the kind of mindset that I want to be able to build.

“I want to still remain a leader, lead the right way, but also go out and there and play football the way I play it.”

Off the field, that means focusing on film work. Hungalu said he has made a practice of film study on his own time and tries to get his teammates to join in.

“For my part, just trying to get the guys on the days off to come in and watch film on our own without the coaches so that we all understand what every position is doing,” he said. “That’s what our biggest mistake was during the (Colorado) game was not fully understanding where people are supposed to be at, so if we do that then we’ll be good.”

Hungalu had one of his best games against the Buffaloes with 11 tackles and had a sack. Sounds like a great game, but Hungalu was not satisfied with his performance.

“Eleven tackles for me is not good enough,” he said. “I would like to have 15 or more tackles a game, at least two tackles for loss a game and maybe a sack.”

Defensive coordinator Kevin Clune said it was Hungalu’s best game of the season. For the season Hungalu leads the team with 50 total tackles, five for loss, 2½ sacks, two interceptions and three quarterback hurries.

“I still think there’s even more out there for him and I hope to see him get better in each of the five games,” Clune said.

“His example has been good and at practice he’s worked harder in these last three weeks that I felt and they’ve been his best three weeks and so hopefully that trend continues and we’ve got to keep pushing that. And then being a vocal guy, a communicator. A guy that puts everybody else on the right page. And that’s what you’ve got to do at middle linebacker. You’ve got to be the guy that runs the show up front.”

He is working to become better at playing downhill, coming up to meet ball carriers instead of letting them come to him.

“Just being able to be a good linebacker side to side,” Hungalu said. “I was fortunate to have somebody tell me from the NFL level that there’s things that I need to work on. So I’m just going to try to work on it and most of all try to build myself to be the best linebacker I can be.”