By Nick Daschel

The Oregonian

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Oregon St. at No. 18 ­Washington

When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: Pac-12

CORVALLIS — Who would know Washington quarterback Jake Browning better than the offensive coordinator who worked with the Huskies senior the past four years, Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith?

On paper, it is one of the few advantages the Beavers have heading into Saturday’s game against Washington in Husky Stadium. Smith was the Huskies’ offensive coordinator during Browning’s first four years in Seattle. He should know Browning’s strengths and weaknesses, and whatever tipoffs the Husky quarterback has developed over the years.

At least it sounds good in theory.

One problem, says Oregon State defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar.

“Coach Smith isn’t going to be out there playing,” Tibesar said.

Smith has handed over his tip sheet on Browning, as well as other Huskies on offense. to Oregon State’s defensive coaches. But what the coaches know may not play out on the field.

“The players have to go out and execute it,” Tibesar said. “Ultimately in coaching, you realize it’s not what you know. It’s what the players can know and absorb and what they can process in a four- to five-second period of time when they see something.”

It is not an easy task against Washington.

“They’re going to shift and motion almost every single play, and do all that stuff to disguise plays,” Tibesar said. “You only have three to five seconds to process what they’re doing.”

Win one for Smith? The first-year OSU coach has decidedly played down any sort of motivational edge Smith and the team might have in facing Washington. But at least one Beaver player is not fooled.

“I feel like it’s a lot of motivation for him,” Oregon State safety Jalen Moore said. “We’re going to go out and try to get a win for him.”

Defensive improvements: Tibesar was asked Wednesday where he is seeing improvement on defense. He gave a general answer about progress, then said in other areas “we’re taking one step forward and two steps back.”

The two steps backward in Tibesar’s mind came from last Saturday’s loss at Stanford, where he felt tackling was not at the level of the previous two games.

While statistical progress has been slow defensively, one area in which Oregon State’s defense has not lacked is effort, Tibesar believes. He pointed to a couple of fourth-quarter situations against Stanford, one when K.J. Costello got loose on a quarterback keeper, and OSU linebacker Shemar Smith — whose job was to cover the middle against a diving running back — ran 40 yards to push Costello out of bounds.

“Our whole mentality is to keep fighting to make them snap it again. The guys have done that,” Tibesar said.

About those slow starts: Oregon State scored a first-quarter touchdown against Stanford last Saturday, the first time it has scored during the opening quarter in four weeks. During Pac-12 play, the Beavers have been outscored 65-28 in the first quarter.

The slow starts are a theme that come up on a weekly basis when players and coaches talk to the media.

In order to break out of the slow-start slump, it was suggested that a solution was perhaps to stop talking about it.

Not to Moore.

“Honestly, it’s something we have to keep preaching every game because that’s one of our downfalls,” Moore said. “We have to come out hard and fast and swinging.”

Moore memories: Moore, Oregon State’s leading tackler this season, quickly remembers the Beavers’ last trip to Seattle.

Moore made his first start in OSU’s 2016 game against Washington, a 41-17 loss in which the Huskies led 31-0 at halftime.

The score did not stick with Moore, but the experience did.

“I was really nervous that day, but it was an experience I can remember the rest of my life,” Moore said. “It was loud, awesome atmosphere.”

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