Jonathan Smith tried to downplay his return to Seattle this Saturday, a place he spent the previous four seasons as Washington’s offensive coordinator.
“I think it will be good," Oregon State’s first-year head football coach said on Monday. The Beavers and No. 17 Huskies kick off around 1:30 p.m. “I’ve got some fond memories of that place. It’s a great place to play a football game.”
Smith said it’s just part of the college football landscape these days that coaches return to former stops. It doesn’t make those games any more important than others.
“This takes place quite a bit, especially in this conference with coaches having connections at other places,” he said. “It’s not just, oh hey, this week we need to play well because.”
Both Smith and Chris Petersen, his boss for four seasons and Washington and two more before that at Boise State, have a great deal of respect for the other.
“He’s an awesome person,” Petersen said. “That’s first and foremost what I always gravitate towards. I think he’s a heck of coach, I really do. I really enjoyed working with him, I think we saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things. Where we started with the offense to where it ended up when he left was really good.”
Smith credits Petersen for helping him see how a program needs to be run.
“I learned a lot about direction and vision and how you treat people,” he said. “Mapping out a plan and staying consistent to it. So I learned a lot from him.”
Petersen admitted Monday he didn’t think Smith was necessarily looking to be a head coach just yet — until the Oregon State job came open.
“I think this thing kind of fell in his lap and he perked up,” Petersen said. “He was pretty locked in to being an OC and I’m sure down the road … but he was pretty focused on that. And then that opportunity came and he rolled with it.”
While the Beavers have struggled to a 2-8 overall record and 1-6 mark in the Pac-12, Petersen, who's Huskies are 7-3 and 5-2, said Smith has done a good job so far.
“For his first year, to have those first-year players and it looks like they’re all in on that for sure,” he said. “Now the day-to-day workings, the culture and all that, that’s hard for me to know on the outside. But I know offensive scheme-wise, which is his area of expertise, you know what he’s doing.”
Like was the case with OSU offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren returning to Colorado earlier this season, there should be plenty of familiarity for both sides. But there will also be some new wrinkles, undoubtedly.
“They’re doing some different things and everyone grows at a different pace,” Smith said.
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Added Petersen: “There’s a lot of talk about that. He knows this, he knows that, he knows — watch our tape and there’s some close similarities. Things we’ve talked about, paid attention to, have to make a few tweaks.”
Smith and the Beavers hope to have the same outcome this time as they did when Lindgren returned to his old stomping grounds. Oregon State rallied to stun Colorado 41-34 in overtime.
“I think our kids are excited,” Smith said. “We’ve got some kids from the state of Washington that are excited to go play back home.”
Redshirt freshman Michael Alfieri had the first four carries of his career in Saturday’s loss at Stanford. He finished with 22 yards with a long of seven.
“Mikey’s been great man,” Smith said with a smile on his face. “He’s been working hard. He started on scout team playing running back and he continued to do some good things. And where we’re at injurywise at running back (we) got him out there and I was excited for him. Shoot, his first college play go in there and fake a flea-flicker and runs and gets some positive yards with it.”
Offensive linemen Jake Levengood (true freshman) and Brandon Kipper (sophomore) both saw some action against the Cardinal.
“I think we’ve got a bunch of kids in regards to guys working hard, they’re young and continuing to grow,” Smith said. “… I feel good about the direction we are headed in regards to our work ethic.”
True freshman linebacker Matthew Tago suffered a high ankle sprain in last Saturday’s game and his status for this week was doubtful as of Monday.
Cornerback Dwayne Williams was also hurt and Smith said there’s a chance he will be available this week.
Safety David Morris practiced Sunday but Smith again said they wouldn’t put him on the field “unless he’s ready to play.” Morris has not played this season.
Jeromy Reichner missed last game with a foot injury.