Browning says he has remained close with Smith, the first-year Oregon State coach who spent the past four year as the Huskies' offensive coordinator.
The Oregon State Beavers will have this advantage when they come to Husky Stadium for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday: They will know just about everything the Huskies want to do before they do it.
Jonathan Smith is in his first year as the head coach at his alma mater after spending the past four seasons as Washington’s offensive coordinator, and in preparation for Smith’s return to Seattle the Huskies have been preparing changes for their in-game operations — from personnel-group tendencies to play-calling signals to blitz-package formations.
“There’s a lot of talk about that: ‘He knows this, he knows that,’ ” UW coach Chris Petersen said.
The flip side, of course, is the Huskies know Smith, too. They know his tendencies, his likes, his dislikes, and that will be to their advantage Saturday.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Analysis: What we've learned from the Mariners' bad start to the season
- UW coaching legend Jim Lambright’s brain donation pays dividends years after his death
- Huskies' loss at softball regional was so much more than the end of a season — it was the end of Gabbie Plain's standout run on Montlake
- Washington gets first win vs. Texas but can't get the second one needed to advance from softball regional
- Seahawks expected to sign WR Marquise Goodwin to fill out 90-man roster
“They’re running pretty much the same stuff that Smitty ran when he was here,” UW senior linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven said. “It’s interesting, you’re going to see a lot of the stuff that our offense does. It’ll be an interesting game obviously against a guy that was running our offense a year ago.”
Smith is still in the early stages of a steep rebuilding in Corvallis. The Beavers are 2-8 overall and 1-6 in conference play. They did come back from a 31-3 deficit at Colorado to beat the Buffaloes 41-34 in overtime on Oct. 27, Oregon State’s first Pac-12 victory in 23 months. (Oregon State QB Jake Luton, a Marysville-Pilchuck High School product, threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in the win.)
Smith said this week he’s seen “a lot” of growth from the program since taking over last December.
“A lot of it’s on the day to day, not just at the games on Saturdays,” he said. “We’ve grown in regards to how we practice and the detail it takes to practice, I think we’ve grown there. … I’ve been encouraged in that regard by the maturity it takes week in and week out to practice at a high level. Again, we’ve got a ways to go to get where we want to be, but we’re trending in the right direction.”
Oregon State’s offense has made notable gains under Smith, ranking No. 7 in the Pac-12 in yards (415.8 per game) and No. 8 in scoring (27.5 points per), ahead of the Huskies in both categories.
“You can see every single week they’re getting better and better and better, and they’re going to have a good plan for us,” UW co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake said. “Smitty’s gone against us in spring football and training camp for the last four years, so I know he knows wrinkles of our defense; we know some wrinkles of his offense. So it’s going to be a battle on Saturday.”
The Beavers defense has been woeful this season. It ranks 129th out of 130 FBS teams in allowing 45.1 points per game.
Smith this week talked about some of the overarching lessons he learned working under Petersen the past six years (the first two at Boise State, then four at UW).
“When I first got there (to UW), we worked really hard on how you’re teaching in your meetings — keeping the kids engaged, keeping it simple,” Smith said. “So I know I became a better teacher over that time. … His consistency — not getting away from your true core beliefs when you’re not getting the exact results you want, knowing good things are coming. You know, ’cause I kind of lived that offensively up there. We did some things early on (in 2014-15) that we believed in; didn’t get the success we wanted. Stuck to it and started getting the results we wanted.”
It was Smith who helped recruit Jake Browning to Washington, and the senior quarterback said he’s looking forward to seeing his old position coach Saturday.
“It’s going to be weird, especially with Senior Night,” Browning said Wednesday. “He’s the guy who recruited me, and obviously I have a lot of respect for the guy and I’m still really close with him.
“I hope he calls a terrible a game. Other than this game, I’ve been rooting for him.”