Ohio State Buckeyes Look to Improve Secondary With Hiring of Chris Ash

Updated: January 15, 2014

The Ohio State Buckeyes entered the 2014 offseason with two consecutive losses and some major issues on the defensive side of the ball—mainly with the play of their secondary. However, the team hopes to have found an answer to their secondary issues, as Sports Illustrated is reporting the Urban Meyer has hired Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash to be his new co-defensive coordinator and secondary guru.

After former co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers left to take the head coach job at James Madison, the Buckeyes had to find a major upgrade in their next co-defensive coordinator and coach in charge of the secondary. It seems they have found just that in Ash, as he is well known for his ability to put together a gameplan to stifle opposing passing games.

Prior to his one season in Arkansas, Ash was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin in 2011 and 2012. During his tenure at Wisconsin, Ash put together one of the best defenses in the nation. In 2012, the Badgers were ranked No. 13 in the nation in total defense and No. 23 in pass defense. His teams were also very good on third down—something that killed the Buckeyes this season—as they led the Big Ten in 2012 and were No. 3 in the NCAA in three-and-out percentage.

Ash will be taking over a Buckeyes pass defense which was ranked No. 110 in the nation last season, giving up 268 yards per game. The need for better coaching and schemes was never more apparent than in the final two games of the season, as Michigan State’s Connor Cook hung 304 yards on them and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd put up 378 yards and five touchdowns through the air.

While the unit did have injuries, the likes of Luke Fickell and Withers couldn’t figure out a way to get the most out of a very talented unit, which was led by potential first-round draft pick Bradley Roby. Ash will be inheriting a roster full of young, talented recruits in 2014, and the expectations to return the Buckeyes to not only a respected defense, but one that will be feared by opponents will lie squarely on his shoulders.

Taking a coach away from the SEC is always a good thing, but I’m sure some Buckeyes fans will find it all that much sweeter that Ash is leaving renowned Buckeye hater Bret Bielema as well. Let’s just hope he can do a better job in Columbus than he did in Fayetteville with the Razorbacks this season.

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