Chris Ash: Defensive Philosophy

Although a relative unknown to the casual college football fan, new Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash has a great reputation within his profession. How does Ash want to play on the defensive side of the ball?

I spoke with two offensive coaches this afternoon that have gone up against new Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash in the past few years.

While wanting to remain anonymous, both men talked about what Ohio State fans can expect from Ash if he is indeed running the show and calling defensive signals for the Buckeyes.

- Ash is definitely a huge proponent of the Quarters or Cover-4 defense. This is exactly what Pat Narduzzi is running with great success at Michigan State. It's also what Ash used against Ohio State in 2012 while coaching at Wisconsin.

- He wants to play the corners up on first and second down, preferring to give no help, leaving the safetys to help out against the run. Especially a running QB like Braxton Miller, who Ash stopped dead two years ago. The tight end and the slot get covered by linebackers, so this is going to require dramatic improvement from this group next year.

- It's always straight Quarters, or Quarter-press, on first and second down, but he does vary his coverages and will drop the corners off at the snap to create confusion at times. First and second down are downs where the offense might think they have an idea of what's happening, but many times they guess wrong because of how he plays the corners.

- Third down is where things come off the grid, and Ash was actually pretty successful last year on third down at Arkansas, with not a lot of pure SEC talent. The goal on third down is simple: Create as much chaos for the quarterback as is possible, mainly with every exotic blitz known to man. Third down is viewed as the time to break all tendencies, where as first and second are more consistent, or so he wants you to think. First down is all about stopping the run, as is every team at every level, but with Quarters they are prepared to handle any type of pass.

- Ash is primarily a four-man front, and almost always on first and second down. On third down, anything is possible, from an eight-man Bear front, to zero down linemen with everybody standing up. Third down is where you get multiple looks and multiple fronts, but not the soft zone unless it's third-and-very long.

- In short, Quarters used by Ash is designed to put more pressure on the corners, but it allows the safetys to help more in the run game. He also hates the three-step drop and throw, and wants that eliminated. This has been a source of contention for Ohio State fans for a few years now, as well as the bubble screens. The thought is that the press coverage can make you vulnerable to the deep throw, but receivers hate being pressed and you hope your defensive line gets enough pressure to not allow the deep ball against your single coverage.

- They also mentioned "pattern-matching" that Ross Fulton explained here in detail before, but he could explain that far better than I could. It sounded like they could be in either man or zone, depending upon what the receivers did on the play. And I hope Ross does add or subtract to what I've written here in his awesome style.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories