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Jonathan Smith faces former players now as coach of Beaers

Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin benefited from playing under Jonathan Smith when he was the University of Washington’s offensive coordinator. It’s only fitting that Smith, now the head coach at Oregon State, should be at the duo’s last game at Husky Stadium.

Smith, who coached at UW from 2014-17, shared the victories, defeats, bowl games and big performances with his former quarteback and running back. Now, on senior day, he’s trying to prevent them from having one more good memory.

Gaskin said Wednesday he’s not really worried about how his old offensive coordinator plans to stop him on Saturday (1:30 p.m., Pac-12). He’s just going to play the game and hopefully see Smith afterward.

“Coaching is coaching, the players play, and I’m really now worried about him (Smith) at the end of the day.” Gaskin said. “He’s always been a good dude to me and I can’t wait to see him after the game, shake his hand and see how he’s doing.”

Browning and Smith developed a close relationship from the beginning. Browning earned the starting job as a true freshman while Smith, according to Browning, was “coaching for his job.”

In that first season Browning appreciated the bond he formed with Smith, a former quarterback with the Beavers.

“I think the thing I appreciate most in my time with him is my freshman year, he’s coaching for his job basically,” Browning said.

“All the coaches were on two-year deals and he was on a one-year deal. And so he never turned on me, he probably could’ve because I threw a lot of picks that year,” Browning said with a laugh.

“I was a true freshman just battling through. He never blamed me for anything and even when stuff was my fault, I was never blamed for anything. It lessened the blow on me and I will always appreciate him for that.”

In 2016 as a sophomore, Browning blossomed and threw 43 TDs with Smith leading the offense. And while Browning has not approached those numbers again, Smith says the UW quarterback is doing plenty of good things.

“From what I’ve seen on tape so far is typical Jake,” Smith said as he met with the media earlier this week. “Making some big time throws and extending the play. So what I’ve seen on tape, the guy has found a bunch of ways to make some plays for them.”

Smith’s charge is to throw a wrench in the Huskies’ plans to set up a winner to the Pac-12 title game next week with Washington State. Before that can happen, they have to defeat the 2-8 Beavers.

“Obviously this place I’ve got a ton of respect for; coaches and players,” Smith said. “Excited about the opportunity to for our guys to play in a tough, tough place-beautiful stadium and we’re looking forward to it.”

Staff writer Lauren Kirschman contributed to this report.

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