With the hiring of co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Ash officially announced last Thursday, I thought now would be as good a time as ever to take a look at a few of the gems Ash has orchestrated over the years. So without further adieu, here are Ash’s greatest hits.
#3: 2012 Ohio State
Number three on the list might not look like a greatest hit on the surface. After all, the Badgers were defeated by Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes 21-14 at Camp Randall Stadium. However, digging a little deeper one finds an incredible defensive performance put on by Ash’s Badger defense.
Coming into the game, the Buckeyes were averaging 40 points per game. They were 10-0 and rolling up 424 yards of offense per outing. With that said, Wisconsin was no slouch. Brett Bielema’s boys were 7-3, but had lost all three games by a combined 9 points, including one loss in overtime. No one expected a win against Wisconsin to come easy, but it’s hard to say anyone predicted the Badgers to stifle OSU en route to their lowest point total in regulation for the season.
Wisconsin held the Buckeyes’ offense scoreless for three out of four quarters with the Scarlet and Gray’s sole touchdown coming via a Carlos Hyde 15-yard run on the first possession of the second quarter (the other score came via a Philly Brown 68-yard punt return).
Braxton Miller was essentially shut down, tossing for only 97 yards (a season low) and rushing for just 48 (the second lowest total of the season). He was also sacked three times. The game was the only one in which Miller was held out of the end zone in 2012.
With the exception of the Purdue game, the contest was the most panic-inducing for Buckeye fans in 2012. The majority of that anxiety was due to Ash’s defense. They did something no other opponent was able to do during the season: stop the Buckeye offense in their tracks.
#2: 2011 Nebraska
In 2011 Ash was promoted to defensive coordinator on Bielema’s staff. During that season, the Badgers gave up 19 points per game (good enough for 13th in the country in scoring defense and 15th in the nation in total defense).
The pass defense was especially good allowing just 163.6 yards per game through the air pegging them at fourth in the nation. In addition, the secondary hauled in 16 interceptions over the course of the season, good enough for second in the Big Ten.
It’s safe to say 2011 was an incredibly successful year for Ash, and no game exemplified that success better than the Badgers 48-17 dismantling of #8 Nebraska.
Ash’s defense gave Bo Pelini’s squad an incredibly rough B1G welcome. The tilt was especially hard on sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez who threw 3 of his 8 interceptions during the game (a single game record for Martinez).
The punishment was doled out early by Ash’s squad who dropped Martinez for a sack on just the sixth play of the game forcing a fumble. Martinez was able to recover and eventually led the Huskers down the field for a score.
Nebraska was able to score again on their first possession of the second quarter, but after that it was tough sledding as Ash’s defense applied the clamps.
Martinez’s next two possessions ended in picks and Nebraska wasn’t able to put any more points on the board until a field goal in the final quarter of play. The 17 points the Huskers were able to muster fell far short of their 31.9 points per game average, and it tied for their lowest point output of the regular season.
#1: 2010 Ohio State
Buckeye fans aren’t so fond of the greatest hit of Ash’s career. Coming in at No. 1 is of course the 31-18 dumping of the top-rated Buckeyes, the only loss on the 2010 schedule. At the time Ash was serving as the Badger’s defensive backs coach and his unit played a huge role in the upset.
Coming into the game the Buckeyes’ offense was firing on all cylinders, averaging 43 points a game while rolling up 448.6 yards every Saturday.
The game started off horribly for the Scarlet and Gray as Badger return man David Gilreath housed the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. That score was all the Badgers’ defense would need for an entire half, as the Buckeyes were held to a mere field goal before heading into the locker room.
Ash’s secondary completely shut-down Terrelle Pryor who went just 4/11 in the first half for 25 yards. In fact, things were going so badly through the air that Pryor completely abandoned the passing game in the second quarter, tossing the ball three times (and completing only one) for a total of 6 yards. That’s right, you read that correctly, six total passing yards in the second quarter.
Things picked up slightly for the passing game in the second half with Pryor ending the contest going 14/28 for 156 yards. Still, his 50% completion percentage was the second lowest of the season and he never found the end zone through the air, the only time that occurred during all of 2010.
The Badger defense put on a clinic against the Buckeye defense and much of that success was due to Ash’s no fly-zone.
The addition of Ash to the Buckeye staff has generated quite a bit of excitement heading into the 2014 offseason. He is young, experienced and knows how to win on the biggest stage. Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of his greatest hits.