With another road test looming in Columbus, Badgers can't dwell on heartbreaker in East Lansing
Chris Ash is heading into his third season at Wisconsin and his second as the Badgers' co-defensive coordinator. In Ash's first year in Madison, he coached the defensive backs, a position he still oversees.
In Ash's first season as co-defensive coordinator, the Badgers ranked 13th in the country in scoring defense (19.0 points per game) and 15th in the nation in total defense. It was the first time since 2006 that Wisconsin had allowed fewer than 20.0 points per game. Ten of the Badgers' 14 opponents failed to score more than 17 points.
UW allowed just 163.6 yards per game through the air in 2011 to rank fourth in the NCAA in pass defense. That was the second-best mark for Wisconsin's defense in the last 20 years. Oregon State, Michigan State (twice) and Oregon were the only teams to pass for more than 180 yards against the Badgers.
Five UW defenders earned All-Big Ten honors, including four first-team selections. Linebackers Mike Taylor and Chris Borland finished 1-2 in the conference in total tackles, with both finishing in the top 10 in the country. Taylor's 150 tackles were the most by a Badger since 2001. Defensive backs Aaron Henry and Antonio Fenelus tied for second in the conference with four interceptions apiece as UW ranked second in the Big Ten with 16 INTs.
In 2010, as UW's defensive backs coach, Ash oversaw marked improvement in the Badger pass defense. UW allowed just 193.9 yards per game through the air. Three of the starters in the Badger secondary earned all-Big Ten honors as Fenelus earned first-team all-conference from the media, Henry was a second-team pick by the coaches and cornerback Niles Brinkley was a consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten pick.
In his first year as a starter at free safety, Henry scored three defensive touchdowns, recovered three fumbles, recorded two interceptions and led the team with 47 solo tackles. Fenelus led the team with four interceptions, including one he returned for a TD.
Prior to coming to Wisconsin, Ash spent eight of the last 10 seasons at Iowa State, beginning as a defensive graduate assistant in 2000. He was promoted to secondary coach in 2002 and added the title of recruiting coordinator in 2006.
Following the 2006 season he moved on to become the secondary coach and recruiting coordinator at San Diego State. He stayed there for two seasons before returning to Iowa State in the same position.
Ash began his career as a volunteer assistant at Drake in 1996. The next season he served as a defensive graduate assistant for the Bulldogs. During those two seasons he was on the same staff as current UW assistants Dave Doeren and Charlie Partridge. When Doeren left Drake following the 1997 season, Ash took over his role as defensive coordinator for two seasons.
Ash has coached in six bowl games in his career, including the 2009 Insight Bowl when Iowa State defeated Minnesota. Last year's Cyclones' defense finished ninth in the country with 32 takeaways and tied for second in the nation in red zone efficiency. In 2005, Iowa State led the Big XII in interceptions (22) after finishing second in the conference the prior year (17).
Ash graduated from Drake with a bachelor's degree in secondary education in 1996. He received his master's degree in education from Iowa State in 2005. A native of Ottumwa, Iowa, Ash has two children, Tanner and Jacey.
The Ash File Hometown: Ottumwa, Iowa College: B.A., Drake, 1996 M.A., Iowa State, 2005 Children: Tanner and Jacey
Coaching Career 1996: Drake (Volunteer Assistant) 1997: Drake (Graduate Assistant - defense) 1998-99: Drake (Defensive Coordinator) 2000-01: Iowa State (Graduate Assistant - defense) 2002-05: Iowa State (Defensive Backs) 2006: Iowa State (Defensive Backs/Recruiting Coordinator) 2007-08: San Diego State (Defensive Backs/Recruiting Coordinator) 2009: Iowa State (Defensive Backs/Recruiting Coordinator) 2010: Wisconsin (Defensive Backs) 2011-present: Wisconsin (Co-Defensive Coordinator/ Defensive Backs)
Bowl Games Coached 2000 Insight.com Bowl 2001 Independence Bowl 2002 Humanitarian Bowl 2004 Independence Bowl 2005 Houston Bowl 2009 Insight Bowl 2011 Rose Bowl 2011 Big Ten Football Championship Game 2012 Rose Bowl