It is hard to argue that the most important assistant on staff with the Texas football program is not defensive coordinator Chris Ash.
Although most of the attention would turn to fourth-year head coach Tom Herman with the Texas football program, a big media outlet named another on staff that would be most impactful for the team’s outcome this fall. Herman and the Longhorns turned over much of the coaching staff since the conclusion of the 2019 regular season, and a lot of that will have to do with their outcome next season.
According to a piece from 247Sports outlining the “20 people who will swing the 2020 college football season” that was released on June 27, recently hired Texas defensive coordinator Chris Ash was the pick from this program. That is an unusual choice by most consideration, but also makes some sense.
Here’s what that piece from 247Sports had to say on the selection of Ash.
Let’s go with another coordinator here. In 2018, Tom Herman landed the No. 3 recruiting class in the nation and five of the top six players in the class were defenders. And yet, two years later he’s turned to a new defensive coordinator, Chris Ash, to try to unlock all that talent. The former Rutgers coach who won a national title with Herman in 2014 at Ohio State, Ash has a lot of pressure on his shoulders … but he also has a lot to work with: Can Jalen Green become a lockdown cornerback? Does moving Joseph Ossai to defensive end result in a ferocious pas-rush? In a crowded defensive backs room, does former Top247 five-star DeMarvion Overshown reach his potential as a new-age, hybrid linebacker? If Ash can pull it out of them, his buddy Herman may finally have that breakthrough season.
If Ash can find a way to turnaround the play of this defense from where they were at under former defensive coordinator Todd Orlando last season, especially throughout Big 12 play, then Texas could reach new heights this fall. Texas allowed more than four yards per carry for the first time in Orlando’s tenure as defensive coordinator last season, and nearly 300 passing yards per game. They also ranked outside of the top 60 FBS programs in points allowed per game (27.5).
Meanwhile, Ash found a good amount of success as a defensive coordinator in his past stops. During his two-year run as the Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator, never once did Ash have his side of the ball allow more than 20 points per game (ranked among the top 18 FBS programs in both seasons).
Ash did catch a bit of turbulence in his run as defensive coordinator with the Arkansas Razorbacks. When he followed former Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema to Fayetteville, Ash saw his defense (that had some talent on it) allow more than 30 points per game (ranking outside of the top 85 FBS programs).
However, it is ironic that Orlando was also listed on this piece from 247Sports. Orlando will be taking over as the next defensive coordinator on staff for head coach Clay Helton and the USC Trojans.
The former Rutgers Scarlet Knights head coach Ash amassed less than 10 wins in a nearly four year run in Piscataway, NJ. He can find his footing once again with a Longhorns defense that possesses a good amount of talent and experience for the coming season.