OSU faces former BeavGreat Smith on Saturday

THOSE IN HUSKYLAND may not be quite ready yet to move on from Washington's loss to Arizona this past Saturday. A recent headline from the local paper reads, "Chris Petersen’s first UW season: Prepare to be confused." One of the bigger fan lightning rods for criticism this 2014 campaign has been their offensive coordinator, former Beaver QB Jonathan Smith.

Oregon State hasn't gone through this in quite a while but there's always a transition phase when a new staff comes in. Chris Petersen and Smith (pictured above circa 1998), and all the other UW coaches are in their first season at Washington. And, as expected, things haven't always gone smoothly.

UW ranks 84th nationally in total offense (377.6), 104th in passing offense (184.5) and 57th in scoring offense (30.3) That said, they had arguably their best game on offense of the season last Saturday ... but still came away on the short end of a 27-26 loss at No. 15 Arizona.

Much of the fan grumbling this year has been about the play-calling, but clock management was added to the mix after Arizona.

With a win seemingly in hand, the Huskies ran a play on first down with 1:33 left on the clock. Incredibly, there was a fumble that gave the ball back to Arizona. The Wildcats kicked a field goal as time expired for the win. (UW also called a timeout to ice the kicker, he went ahead and booted it and missed it wide right before nailing the game-winner.)

There were reports after the game that Smith thought Arizona had a couple timeouts when the Wildcats had only one, that UW could have run the clock out or at least taken three knees and a punt with a couple seconds left -- and there were misgivings about not calling a timeout with 30 seconds left before Arizona's field goal try. (UW has a dangerous return man in John Ross.)

The bottom line is that headlines like, "Message to UW coach Chris Petersen: Your chart is wrong" probably won't be forgotten anytime soon among the faithful.

Meanwhile, Smith continues to try to coax more out of an offense that has a rookie QB, an o-line that has struggled with pass protection and injuries, and a running back corps that had been using a linebacker three straight games to carry load before moving back to his natural 'backer spot this past Saturday. (Shaq Thompson.)

Speaking of the UW o-line, the Huskies fumbled six times (losing three) in the loss at Arizona with two of those quarterback-center exchanges.

This week in practice, senior Mike Criste has moved back into the starting center role he occupied in 2013 and Colin Tanigawa has moved from center to guard, reports the Seattle Times. James Atoe, all 6-7, 381 pounds of him, is in line to start at right tackle after starting UW’s first nine games at right guard. OL Dexter Charles (ankle) rejoined the rotation at guard this past Saturday. Senior Ben Riva (ankle, knee) is expected to play on special teams units again but is doubtful to return up front, UW offensive line coach Chris Strausser said.

So Smith is dealing with some first year adversity. But that's nothing new for him.

He came to OSU as a walk on.

He left as the No. 3 passer in Pac-10 history (passing yards and total offense.)

After a stint with the Beavs as a graduate assistant (2002-03) he coached the QBs at Idaho (2004-09), was the offensive coordinator/QBs coach at Montana (2010-11) and spent 2012-13 coaching the quarterbacks at Boise State with Petersen.

The Huskies (6-5, 2-5 Pac-12) host the Beavers (5-5, 2-5) at 7:30 p.m. at Husky Stadium. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.


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