There is a lot of excitement regarding the return of Cal wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau--he was one of the best developers of talent, and our passing offense tended to be successful during his tenure (even Joe Ayoob managed to get his receivers a lot of action). It has been five years since he's been at Berkeley though, and his time with the Colorado Buffaloes came during the Dan Hawkins era.
Cal secondary coach Ashley Ambrose is a fresh name, but ultimately none of us really know anything about him; he was a secondary coach for only one year at Colorado and this will be only his second year working with defensive backs. Like with Tosh Lupoi (great success!) and with Kevin Daft (fail fail fail), Jeff Tedford is taking a chance in his coaching evaluation; time will tell if it will pay off.
To clear up any misconceptions of the two, we talked with Bob Bell of The Ralphie Report (our SB Nation Buff counterparts) to learn more about what our new coaches in Boulder were like. Our questions in bold, their answers below.
1. Your team sucked last year - why should we be excited about hiring two of your coaches?
I think it is tough to evaluate any of our coaches under Dan Hawkins. I don't believe he provided the best platform for coaches to be successful. That being said, both Kiesau and Ambrose were seen as two of the better recruiting coaches CU had. Many wanted Ambrose to stick around after the Hawkins because of his NFL experience and his future ability to attract solid prospects to Boulder. I think Ambrose is going to be a star at Cal recruiting defensive back talent.
Kiesau was always seen as one of the best if not the best recruiter Colorado had. He showed some growth as an offensive coordinator the last few games of the year. The good thing with Kiesau is he is familiar with Cal, knows the ins and outs of the program and that should be a benefit in recruiting.
2. You guys have a couple of NFL draft prospects in cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Kalil Brown. How much of an effect did Ambrose have on them in his lone year of coaching DBs?
No doubt Jimmy Smith progressed last year as a player. Whether that was him maturing or Ambrose's coaching, I don't know but he is 6'3" 210 pounds and should be one of the first five corners taken in this year's draft. Jimmy Smith has always had first round talent, last year we saw it all the time so some credit should be given to Ambrose.
3. How was the passing game (for both WRs and QBs) affected by Kiesau's movement from WR coach (where has was from 2006-08) to offensive coordinator/QB coach?
What was interesting about Kiesau as offensive coordinator was the difference between gameplans when Tyler Hansen was in the game compared to Cody Hawkins. Again, who knows the plans laid out by Dan Hawkins but when Tyler Hansen was in the game, the playbook seemed restricted and felt like it operated in a 10 by 10 box. When Cody Hawkins took over after injury late in the season, the offense showed signs of life. The Buffs were challenging the safeties and allowing their playmakers to make plays. That best describes the offense the last five years under Dan Hawkins: lacking identity and inconsistent. I don't think Kiesau brought a ton of consistency to the offense last year.
Bottom line, Cal got a first hand look at the Buffs last year and it's offensive ineptitude.
4. Would you rather have Kiesau and Ambrose or Marshall? (We're going to ask you this again for our pre-game Q+A when we play you in 2013).
Probably Ambrose from a potential recruiting standpoint (after all the negative we have heard about Marshall). I think all three can be successful, though.
5. What was Coach Kiesau's role in Tyler Hansen vs Cody Hawkins?
Supposedly, Dan Hawkins and Eric Kiesau worked together to make the quarterback decisions. Let's just say we are happy to move on from all of this quarterback controversy. I think Kiesau realized the benefits of playing Hansen but when Hansen was in, the game plan presented by Kiesau didn't always play to his strengths.
The Dan Hawkins era is tough to explain. A lot of it doesn't make any sense.
6. Who should Coach Kiesau really punch in the face for opponents' lack of fear in Colorado's passing attack?
I don't think one person is necessarily responsible but the success of the offense really falls on Kiesau, hence the term offensive coordinator. The Buffs lacked a consistent offensive line and let's face it, Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen aren't world beaters. Colorado's inability to recruit a blue chip quarterback to lead this team was one of the reasons they weren't successful.
7. What was the one thing Coach Kiesau could've done better during his tenure @ Colorado?
Recruit a blue chip quarterback.
8. What was the one thing Coach Ambrose could've done better during his tenure @ Colorado?
Don't know. Wasn't here long enough.
9. Any indication of what type of teacher Coach Ambrose is w/ his wealth of NFL experience?
According to reports, he has good energy and obviously knows what he is talking about.
10. What should we expect from Coach Ambrose on the sidelines?
Wow, I am impressed. 10 questions about position coaches! I think you will like Ambrose.