The Buckeyes won that next-to-last game of the season in overtime, but the game was a slog in which Wisconsin’s defense seemed a step ahead of Ohio State’s offense.
“I felt like I got outcoached,” Herman, OSU’s offensive coordinator, told the Big Ten Network in June.
Chris Ash was the Wisconsin defensive coordinator who got the better of Ohio State that day. Now, after coaching for four years under Bret Bielema at Wisconsin and Arkansas, he will become a Buckeye.
Although Ohio State wouldn’t confirm the hirings yesterday, which were first reported by SI.com, both Ash and Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson will join Meyer’s staff as the Buckeyes attempt to improve their beleaguered defense.
Ash replaces co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Everett Withers, who became the head coach at James Madison in December. Johnson takes over for Mike Vrabel, who was hired by the Houston Texans last week.
Ash’s primary responsibility will be to help shore up Ohio State’s leaky pass defense. His resume suggests that he can. In 2011, Ash’s first season as defensive coordinator, Wisconsin ranked 13th nationally in scoring defense and 15th in total defense. Its pass defense was fourth, yielding only 163.6 yards a game.
In 2012, Wisconsin ranked 23rd in pass defense. Ohio State’s players and coaches don’t need statistics as proof.
“I wouldn’t say they were taking it to us physically,” center Corey Linsley said about that game. “But they were taking it to us fundamentally and outexecuting us and outscheming us.”
Herman said that Ash used a simple but effective approach.
“He called one front and one coverage,” Herman said. “Within that front and coverage, he could adjust to any formation or motion we gave him. … Chris had his guys more prepared than I did.”
This will be the second time Herman and Ash have been on the same staff. Both were at Iowa State in 2009. Ash is an Iowa native.
BTN analyst and former coach Gerry DiNardo remembers being so impressed watching Ash at practice as defensive backs coach in his first season with the Badgers that he made a point to tell Bielema and athletic director Barry Alvarez afterward. DiNardo was particularly enamored with Ash’s ability to give players immediate and insightful feedback.
“The best coaches tell you what you do right and what you do wrong immediately after a rep,” DiNardo said. “I see him as a real expert on the back end — the secondary and linebackers and coverages. And I also see him as a guy who brings great energy to practice and the games. I personally think those are the things the Ohio State defense needs — expertise on the back end and energy.”
Ohio State ranked 110th in passing yards allowed and 83rd in passing efficiency defense in 2013.
The Buckeyes’ defensive line was a strength last year, but Vrabel’s unexpected departure was a blow. Johnson’s hiring is considered a major coup. Highly respected for his coaching and recruiting ability, Johnson was the last remaining coach from Joe Paterno’s veteran staff. He had coached for the Nittany Lions since 1996.
Johnson was appointed interim head coach after Bill O’Brien left for the Texans job — and took Vrabel with him — but was disappointed after being bypassed when Vanderbilt’s James Franklin was hired for the job full time.
Johnson has coached six first-round NFL draft picks, including 2000 No.?1 overall pick Courtney Brown.
He also is familiar with at least a couple of current Buckeyes. While at Penn State, Johnson recruited Noah Spence and Tommy Schutt, both of whom would have played for the Nittany Lions if not for the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
In 2006, Rivals.com named Johnson the national college football recruiter of the year.
What Chris Ash's Arkansas tenure means for Ohio State January 14, 2014 Source: Land-Grant Holy Land - It's been a whirlwind last 18 hours for the Ohio State football program. After news first broke yesterday evening that Ohio State had gauged the interest of the recently departed from Penn State Larry Johnson Sr to potentially be their defensive line coach, within 2-3 hours, we had news that Johnson was in the process of finalizing a deal with the Buckeyes.
Flash forward just over 12 hours, and Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel once again had news with huge ramifications for the future of Urban Meyer's Buckeyes. According to Thamel, the Buckeyes will be bringing in Arkansas (and former Wisconsin co-)defensive coordinator Chris Ash. Thamel also confirmed the finalization of Johnson's contract.
But a number of Ohio State fans were instantly taken aback by the fact that the Buckeyes were bringing in the caretaker of a defense that ranked 94th in F/+ for the 2013 season. By comparison, Luke Fickell's embattled Ohio State D last season was 45th.
So how much of that defense was the result of the players Ash inherited in his first and only year in Fayetteville and how much of it was something he either was or wasn't doing? We went straight to the source and Arkansas Fight's Doc Harper for this edition of '5 minutes in the Holy Land'.
Does Chris Ash's departure from Arkansas to Ohio State come down to money? Responsibilities? And from your year following him, is his recruiting prowess better than 247Sports' recruiter rankings would have us believe?
I don't know for sure, but I highly doubt it's money. Bielema's made a really big deal since coming here out of making sure he could afford to keep any assistants who would otherwise leave for money. So unless the Buckeyes were simply opening the vault for him, it seems unlikely money was a big factor. It may be that he's more comfortable in the Big 10 or that he wanted to go to a more successful program that already has more talent at its disposal, but hard to say for sure.
He was never really hyped as recruiter. He certainly wasn't known for being one of the top recruiters on Arkansas' staff. Of course, Ohio State typically has much more success in recruiting than Arkansas or Wisconsin, so he may be more successful recruiting to Ohio State, but I can't honestly say he's some sort of ace recruiter.
How much of Arkansas' defense was new FAU head coach Charlie Partridge and how much of it was Ash? What sort of philosophies did they employ?
Arkansas was very conservative on defense most of the year due to talent deficiencies in the secondary. Opposing receivers typically received pretty generous cushions in an effort to prevent big plays. It didn't always work – look at the game-winner for LSU to end the season – but Arkansas' defense did gradually improve through the season (We did hold Auburn to 35 points in November, which is much more impressive now than it was then). I'm sure he wanted to attack more as most coaches say they want to, but we just didn't have the personnel to do it.
Fans were disappointed in basic tackling by the secondary, something for which he actively promotes himself. You can see a particularly egregious performance from Tevin Mitchel in the Ole Miss game on a play that went for a touchdown in the second half and essentially lost the game for us.
I never had any indication Partridge was doing more than what he was supposed to be doing on the defensive line.
Obviously Arkansas' defense struggled, to say the least, this past season. Was this the result of the previous regime, or does Ash merit some of the blame?
Most fans gave Ash a pass. We know the Petrino staff barely recruited defense. I mean, Arkansas at one point this season gave up 111 straight points to South Carolina, Alabama, and Auburn, so fans will give the current coaches at least some blame for being that bad, but it was still talent more than anything else. After 2012, a really negative mentality became prominent in many of our players, and when things started to get bad this season, you could see it coming back to the surface, but the coaches deserve credit for somewhat righting the ship in November. Even though Arkansas didn't win, the players gave full effort – which didn't happen in November 2012. Very few were ever calling for him to be fired.
What did Arkansas' players think of Chris Ash, defensive coordinator?
There didn't seem to be many problems. He was Arkansas' third defensive coordinator in three seasons, so we never got the vibe that anybody was really close with each other, but there weren't many rumors of problems. There were even a few players who never sniffed the field under the previous staff, but things clicked playing for Ash and the other new coaches. And all of a sudden, we had these seniors starting games that weren't even able to get on special teams in previous years.
So, yes, the players seemed happy most of the year. They never quit playing hard during the losing streak – other than the Alabama and South Carolina games. They fought until the end when they had nothing left to play for, which is a good indication that they enjoyed playing for the coaches.
Given some of the defense's issues, as odd as it sounds to ask, are you guys at all excited to get a functional do over defensively? Is there anything about Ash as a coach you're likely to miss?
Arkansas fans just want new players to come in. Unless Bielema's able to find some all-star who will get the fans really excited, we just want to see the new players get to Fayetteville and watch the young players develop. Arkansas really needs someone who can convince good defensive recruits to be Razorbacks – particularly linebackers and defensive backs, so we'll be watching for that.
Ash To Bring Aggressive Defense To OSU January 14, 2014 Source: BuckeyeSports.com - So, what do we know about Chris Ash, the co-defensive coordinator that Ohio State has just hired, news reported first by per SI.com’s Pete Thamel?
Well, he previously was the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at Arkansas after working with Razorbacks’ head coach Bret Bielema at Wisconsin.
A season ago, the Hogs were 88th in the nation in scoring defense, 76th in total defense and 104th in team passing efficiency defense, though those numbers are not the be-all, end-all considering the dumpster fire that Bielema inherited upon arrival from interim coach John L. Smith.
In fact, The Razorbacks were 113th in passing defense the season before adding Ash to the defensive staff, similar to Ohio State's 110th-place finish this past season.
Prior to that, in 2012, Ash's Badgers led the Big Ten and ranked third in the NCAA in three-and-out percentage while finishing 13th in total defense and 19th in scoring defense. The year before that, Wisconsin was 13th in the nation in scoring defense and 15th in total defense. Wisconsin made the Rose Bowl in each of those seasons to complete a three-year run of trips to Pasadena.
But what kind of defense does he prefer to run as he joins a defensive staff featuring Luke Fickell and Kerry Coombs and now is without Mike Vrabel and Everett Withers? Well, for starters, an instructional video by Ash that can be found on Amazon.com is titled “Chris Ash: Aggressive 4-3 Defense."
In fact, here are a few clips on YouTube of Ash outlining some of his core beliefs and strategies.
Aggressive 4-3 Defense: Setting Up the System
Aggressive 4-3 Defense: Stuffing the Run
Aggressive 4-3 Defense: Shutting Down the Passing Game
Looking a little deeper, Ash has done a number of interviews over the years that have outlined his defensive philosophy. For starters, here’s his take on what he likes to see out of his defenses, as told to the Wisconsin State Journal in 2011 when asked about what he likes out of defenses put together by former Ohio State assistant Lovie Smith.
"I just like the way they play," Ash said of Smith's defenses. "They're simple with what they do. They get their guys to play as hard as anybody in the league on defense. It has nothing to do with great Xs and Os, they don't run a lot of defenses. They do what they do and they do it really well and they do it with great fundamentals. I buy into that."
He also abhors giving up the big play, something that will come in handy when fixing an Ohio State defense that gave up a lot of them in 2013. That was an issue that plagued Wisconsin in 2011, as well, leading Ash to address the problems, as he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"Our scheme is built on discipline," Ash said. "Our scheme is built on team defense, where guys have to be in the right spots.
"We were, when you watch our film last season, in the right spots a lot of the time.
"It was the handful of times that you're not . . . that is when we gave up big plays."
In addition, here is an interview Ash did with X&O Labs which further outlines some of his defensive philosophies.
As for whether Ash might fit into what Ohio State is trying to do defensively – something that has been an issue in previous years with Fickell and Everett Withers running the show – here’s a take from X’s and O’s guru Ross Fulton, who writes for the blog Eleven Warriors and also posts on our Ask The Insiders message board.
Ash's quarters scheme shut down OSU in 2012. He and Fickell's approach fit better. And I would be surprised if Ash made the move without ...
“If Urban Meyer could have had a little longer, I think he might have had Derrick Williams instead of Percy Harvin (a year later),” Houchens said in a phone interview Tuesday.
A few weeks after that visit from Meyer, Williams announced that he was going to Penn State. Nittany Lions assistant Johnson, one of the best recruiters in the last two decades in the Maryland/Washington D.C. area, had helped lock down Williams for coach Joe Paterno.
Now Johnson and Meyer are going to be on the same team.
“I was like, 'Oh Lord, he's going to haunt the Big Ten,” Houchens said after learning of Johnson's addition to the Ohio State staff. “No disrespect to the staff there, but Urban just got better and the Buckeyes just got better.”
As reported by SI.com, Johnson will be Ohio State's new defensive line coach after coaching at Penn State since 1996. A source confirmed that Ohio State plans to make the official announcement of the hire on Wednesday. Johnson is expected to make an immediate impact for the Buckeyes in recruiting one of the more talent-rich areas on the East Coast. Whenever Meyer hires an assistant, he says the ability to recruit is what matters most.
“Larry is probably one of the most genuine guys I've met in the coaching profession,” said Elijah Brooks, the football coach at DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md., who has running back Mark Allen pledged to Penn State's 2014 class. “He's one of the most respected people in this business and I just think it's a huge pickup for Ohio State. Coach Johnson always has a great rapport with the coaches in this area and it doesn't matter where he goes, he'll be able to attract players, and recruits love him. It's definitely going to make a huge impact.”
Ohio State also hired Chris Ash as its new co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach. Ash was at Arkansas for a year after arriving with Bret Bielema from Wisconsin.
Johnson was at Penn State forever, and had created a crucial pipeline of talent for the Nittany Lions from the Maryland area, where Johnson has served as a successful high school coach before Paterno hired him. Houchens said Johnson and current Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, a former assistant at Illinois and at Florida with Meyer, were the two best recruiters of the area he has seen.
Houchens figures Johnson, 61, will have a strong desire to recruit for his new boss after serving as the interim coach at Penn State after Bill O'Brien left for the NFL, but for the second time not getting the full-time head coaching job. New coach James Franklin offered Johnson the chance to stay as the Nittany Lions' defensive line coach, but Johnson chose to move on.
“It's going to be different seeing him in red and silver instead of blue and white,” said Houchens, now the head coach at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. “I guarantee you he's got a fire burning inside him right now. Larry's that type of guy that's very personable, but he's a real competitor. He's going to take all this stuff personally.
“He's going to feel like he got slighted, so he's going to have a little chip on his shoulder to say, 'I'm going to show those people what they lost.' He's got something to prove, and I just think there's a lot of reasons Ohio State just got better. But I'm excited because it's going to take Urban's program to another level.”
Johnson coached seven first-team All-Americans on the defensive line at Penn State, with six becoming first-round NFL draft picks, including Courtney Brown, the overall No. 1 pick to the Browns in 2000. Johnson is also the father of former Penn State and NFL running back Larry Johnson Jr. and former Penn State receiver Tony Johnson.
He'll take over at Ohio State for former Buckeye Mike Vrabel, who left to join the Houston Texans after three years coaching in Columbus. In that time, Vrabel had begun to establish a reputation as a passionate recruiter and good teacher of the skills he acquired during his NFL playing career.
“He was an outstanding coach,” OSU AD Gene Smith said after Vrabel's departure. “Now we'll have to go find another one.”
They found someone who has been doing his job much longer.
“He's a first-class guy,” said Bob Milloy, the head coach at Good Counsel High School in Olney, Md. That's the alma mater of receiver Stefon Diggs, a sought-after recruit whom the Buckeyes finished second for in recruiting behind Maryland two years ago.
“He's always got his navy blue suit on with a white shirt and navy tie, very professional. And if he tells you something, he does it. There have been four or five guys I've worked with in recruiting that are great, and Larry is right there.”
Milloy was the former head coach of OSU legend Shawn Springs at Springbrook High School in Maryland. He liked talking football with Meyer during Diggs' recruitment, when Meyer was heavily involved. He said he's dealt with Luke Fickell the most on the OSU staff in recent years and said he likes Fickell a lot. But the idea of Ohio State jumping on the chance to hire Johnson made sense.
“Urban Meyer has never been known for being dumb,” Milloy said. “Larry will no question make a difference. He's just been doing it for so long.”
For the first time, Johnson will be doing it for another school.
Penn State fans voice sadness, disbelief, some anger over Larry Johnson's decision January 15, 2014 Source: PennLive.com - When PennLive’s Bob Flounders reported that Larry Johnson turned down a position on new Penn State football coach James Franklin’s staff, commenters weren’t surprised.
Three hours later when Greg Pickel reported that Johnson was close to finalizing a deal with Big Ten rival Ohio State, the comments turned to disbelief. Some went beyond belief to anger. Others turned their words toward Penn State.
Woody Hayes career ended 35 yrs ago today (December 29, 1978).
A look back at the 1978 Gator Bowl and the legacy of Ohio State's legendary head coach.
Woody’s generous side often overlooked December 22, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "Unlike when it happened 35 years ago, this time everyone sees The Punch coming. Yet, still there is no way to avoid getting hit by it, as a barrage of TV replays, tired jokes and national stories will focus on the left hook that Woody Hayes threw during the 1978 Gator Bowl against Clemson..."
Urban Meyer, Ohio State Players Visit Children’s Hospital To Deliver Holiday Gifts
Johnnie Dixon is Number 19 HERE Kerry Coombs Recruiting Video HERE Raekwon McMillan commits to Ohio State HERE Joey Bosa is doing a lot of coming and going this week... HERE Ohio State recruiting: State Secrets, 12/27 - Roderick Johnson, Marcelys Jones updates HERE Ohio State recruiting: State Secrets, 12/20 - Thomas, McDowell, and Gibson Updates HERE Urban Meyer & Players Pre-Bowl Q&A Videos 12/18/13 HERE Joey Bosa, Ryan Shazier, Jack Mewhort - Pre-Bowl Q&A HERE Jim Tressel and Maurice Clarett talk about 'Youngstown Boys' HERE Ohio State football Insider: Passing game a problem on offense, defense HERE Ohio State's Miller wins Tribune Silver Football HERE Ohio State football: Fourth-down miss still haunts Jeff Heuerman HERE Ohio State recruiting: State Secrets, 12/12 HERE Ohio State recruiting: State Secrets, 11/29 HERE Ohio State recruiting: State Secrets, 11/27 HERE What an angry Urban Meyer looks like HERE BCS Standings: Ohio State Buckeyes Could Jump FSU HERE Why the 2012 and 2013 teams are among the highest scoring ever at OSU HERE Evan Spencer story HERE Hath Hell Frozen Over/Finebaum story HERE Ted Ginn Brandon LaFell O-H-I-O HERE Lou Holtz Takes Mark May to Task HERE Who Gon' Stop Us [Ohio State 2013] Video HERE Ohio State FB Mid-Season Highlights HERE Urban Meyer's Wife Shelley Really Wants Shovel Passes HERE Our Salute To Veterans & Military O-H-I-O HERE An Ohio State Thanksgiving HERE
Not everything on Buckeye Fans Only is posted on Twitter, and vice versa. For the most updated daily news, be sure to follow us here and also on TWITTER or on FACEBOOK, where are Tweets are posted too. Check out our Twitter feed and see our most recent 2002 Tweets HERE. Get updates via SMS by texting follow buckeyefansonly to 40404.
The archives contain all previously posted football news. If you missed or are looking for something, find it in the archives.