By Kevin Hampton

Corvallis Gazette-Times

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Oregon St. at California

When: 2 p.m. Nov. 4 TV: Pac-12

CORVALLIS — After Oregon State’s heartbreaking 15-14 loss to No. 20 Stanford on Thursday night, interim coach Cory Hall had one main point to make: The Beavers have changed.


“I always believe that a team is going to take on the identity of the head coach and I’m no one to be pushed around, and obviously you’re going to develop a team like that,” Hall said.

Football is 100 percent mental, Hall says, and the Beavers’ play in their past two games certainly supports his theory.

The change has been drastic since Gary Andersen left the OSU program nearly three weeks ago after a string of lopsided losses.

Although Oregon State could not break through late in the losses to Colorado and Stanford, running back Ryan Nall said there is a definite distinction between close losses under Hall and blowout losses under Andersen.

“I’d say that it’s not like ‘Here we go again,’ it’s the fact that we should have won that game,” Nall said. “Two games in a row where we’re this close to making it a victory. One play away, two plays away, a series, a drive, a stop. Whatever it may be, we’re this close to making it and that’s what coach Hall has been harping on is that we’ve got to realize that it’s not that same team that (we were) and we’ve got to realize that and fight no matter what happens.”

But for the second straight week Hall has had to rally his Beavers after a tough defeat.

“Just had to calm them down to make sure they still understood where we are and what we’ve been through, where we’ve come from, from there to now. So it’s the right kind of emotion,” Hall said. “Now it has to translate. It has to translate into the win and loss column. But they have the right kind of emotion. Those guys want to compete, they want to play and they want to make Beaver Nation proud. They know they should have beat that team, just like we should have beat Colorado.”

On Thursday, the Beavers did just about everything according to plan. They wanted to establish the run and did so against Stanford, rushing for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Nall had 84 yards on 19 carries.

They expected to face Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Love and wanted to stop Stanford’s run game. Love did not play, and the Beavers held the Cardinal to 81 yards rushing on 27 carries.

But the turning points came on two plays. Nall’s fumble as the Beavers were trying to run out the clock with a 14-9 lead gave Stanford the chance to steal the game.

On Stanford’s last drive, the Cardinal converted on a fourth-and-10 play and scored the go-ahead touchdown.

“Ball security: You’ve got to protect that ball. You can’t have turnovers in that scenario. We’re milking the clock, driving down, probably going to leave them with a minute even if we were to punt,” Hall said. “I believe they only had two timeouts left, defense was playing good football. Fourth-and-10, the receiver hits us down the seam and makes a really good catch there in two-man (coverage). They didn’t make that play before and it was a well-contested catch.

“So you look at those two plays and in those moments, I guess right there it’s hard for me to even say we’ve got to get used to playing in big moments because we could be having a different conversation had one or two plays went differently.”