With Al Simmons gone, Ashley Ambrose has stepped in as Cal’s defensive backs coach. Even before spring camp, Ashley Ambrose has made an immediate difference at Cal by helping to recruit Kameron Jackson, Stefan McClure, and Joel Willis. Lets hope that he can make an immediate impact on our players’ performances on the field.
As a player, Ambrose was an outstanding defensive back for Mississippi Valley State and then in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans Saints, and the Atlanta Falcons. After Ambrose retired from the NFL in 2004, he gained interest in coaching. In 2006, Ambrose was an intern coach for the Atlanta Falcons (who went 7-9 that year). Afterwards, Ambrose became an intern coach and then a defensive coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, who are now part of the Pac-12.
In his one year as defensive coach, Ambrose has helped see through first round NFL draft pick Jimmy Smith in his senior season. However, even though Jimmy Smith was an All-Big 12 player and Jalil Brown was an honorable mention, many analysts have said that these corners already had the talent and experience before Ashley Ambrose was promoted as the defensive backs coach; therefore, Ambrose has yet to prove himself as a good coach. If we look at a few significant stats, Colorado had the 11th worst pass defense in the nation (110 out of 120), the 3rd worst number of interceptions in the Big 12 (Cal did worse overall), and the 9th worst passing efficiency defense in the nation [Source]. Of course, those unfortunate statistics could all be because of the very bad defensive schemes of former Colorado defensive coordinator, Ron Collins. Let’s hope that Ambrose can bring life into our defensive backs, especially to our young and talented defensive backs coming in this fall. During spring practice, observers have already seen that Ashley Ambrose has more energy and focus than Al Simmons, something we have been lacking on the sidelines for the past few years. Last season, our secondary was lit up like a Christmas tree by big arms like Matt Barkley and Andrew Luck, and lacked consistency all season. With Coach Pendergast bringing in all sorts of blitz packages and nickel packages, our defensive backs will need to be in tip-top shape before we face Fresno State at Candlestick Stadium.