Playing for undermanned Miami of Ohio, Zac Dysert's career has gone without much fanfare or notice. A four year year starter and three year captain for the Redhawks, Dysert will end his career by breaking virtually all of the school passing records set by former Miami quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
From what I've seen of Dysert so far, I feel comfortable saying that he's got the best blend in this class of physical talent, throwing talent, and refined quarterback skills (the functional application of those talents). He's very far along mechanically. His offense isn't particularly sophisticated, but it does ask him to do a bunch of different things, and he's getting a lot of work running West Coast Offense principles. He works under center and in the shotgun. There's a good mix of drop back and rollout passes.
For a four year starter, Dysert still looks a little rough around the edges, oftentimes getting ahead of himself and trying to do too much to overcome the talent differential between his team and the opponent. Bad drops and a poor running game make it difficult for the Redhawks to sustain offense consistently, but Dysert makes his fair share of spectacular plays along the way.
There's not a whole lot of analysis going into the route combinations or coverages in these first few plays I'm breaking down. The concepts are all very basic. What makes it so impressive and worth highlighting is just how accurate Dysert is when throwing deep. He has very good mechanics, and his arm works independently from his body. He can sling the ball downfield with little to no effort and without need to have his feet set (or needing to stride into his throws), and his strikes do not require adjustment needed by the receivers. It's impressive stuff.
The Redhawks have two receivers to the weakside of the formation, running a Hitch/Fade combination. Ohio State runs Cover 3.
Seeing the corner react up to the Hitch route, Dysert begins pulling the trigger on the fade.
By the time the corner realizes his mistake, it's too late. There's far too much ground for the center field safety to cover. The ball is place perfectly in stride for the receiver.
Miami has Dysert on a designated rollout to the right. They call a two man, either/or route concept with the receiver running a streak downfield and the fullback releasing into the flat. I can't tell whether Ohio State is in Quarters (Cover 4), Cover 3, or Cover 1, but I've highlighted the DB rotation after the snap.
The strong safety taking a flat break towards the sideline, and Dysert throws his wide receiver open between the left corner and free safety.
What makes this throw all the more impressive is that Dysert did it on the move without having his feet set. By squaring himself up to the line of scrimmage before his throw, he is able to get maximum accuracy and velocity, and the throw goes on a rope. Unfortunately, the wide receiver in unable to maintain possession of the ball through the corner's tackle, and the play is ruled incomplete.
Working Through Snags
Miami (OH) calls the "Snag" pass concept (a West Coast Offense staple) more than any other play. Snag is a combination of China (Inverted Smash, or Corner/Flat) along with a dragging Curl. The Hi/Low stretch of the China combined with the Curl/Flat horizontal stretch form a Triangle read for the quarterback. The play can be run as either a 3-step or 5-step concept, although the different drops alter the progression (3-step reads the Curl/Flat as a Quick read, working to the Corner route late; 5-step teaches to hit the corner in rhythm at the top of the drop. If the Corner is taken away, read to the Flat, and then to the Curl inside).
Miami calls a 3-step drop (1-step from shotgun) Snag in the Redzone against a Quarters (4 deep, 3 under) look from Ohio State. A Quarters defense with pattern reading can play with a couple of different ways, but two things will be constant - the safety will take the #2 receiver on any vertical threat, and the linebacker will take the first threat to the flats. The corner's responsibility will change by situation and matchup, but he can either man up on the #1 receiver, or bracket the #2 receiver on a vertical threat.
The linebacker doesn't pick up his threat to the Flats, staying inside on the Curl instead. Dysert starts to pull the trigger….
….but puts too much on the throw, sailing the ball over the running back's head.
On 3rd and goal, the Redhawks go back to Snag, but call for the Flat runner to continue up the sideline in a wheel route. Since the Flat came so open the last time they ran Snag, they're hoping for the defender in that area to jump the route, while the receiver continues upfield.
The play is a designed rollout for Miami. Ohio State has three defenders to cover two receivers on the Curl/Flat combo. The defender responsible for the Wheel runner had the awareness to stay and turn up-field with the receiver. The free safety and outside corner both squeeze the Curl runner.
Seeing that the defense has expanded with him and squeezed everything short, Dysert goes to the Corner route in the back of the endzone. He releases the ball on the move, getting hit directly after releasing the ball. The wide receiver goes up and plucks the ball, then loses control of it after hitting the ground. Miami has to settle for a field goal on the drive.
Making Something From Nothing
One of the things that will draw comparisons between Dysert and the man whose records he'll be breaking (Ben Roethlisberger) will be the strength they have in the pocket to break defenders' grasps, get out of sacks, and extend plays.
Here, Miami has called a concept that's a combination between Snag and Shallow Cross/Drive, another triangle-read, West Coast Offense staple.
The left tackle is beaten right off the snap, and the defensive end is able to reach out and get a hand on Dysert's jersey before he even completes his drop. He's strong enough to break the grasp of the defender. However, the defensive tackle (highlighted in red) has also started to collapse the pocket.
Dysert is able to hold up for a second through the defensive tackle's contact, buying him enough time to get the throw off (accurately) with an awkward release platform.
It's the first drive of the game and Miami has driven down to the redzone. Ohio State calls a zone blitz on 3rd and 5 from their own 7 yard line. The blitz does what its job, confusing the Miami protection and getting a free rusher off of the offense's right edge and a safety coming free up the middle.
The strongside linebacker and safety are both able to get pretty clean shots on Dysert.
Dysert, however, is able to use his strength to break out of the potential sack. He gets the throw off with an awkward release and with the safety hanging off of his leg. The pass goes accurately to his outlet receiver in the flat (and no defender in the area), but is dropped, taking away a potential touchdown early in the game.
Dysert is someone who is going to draw a lot of intrigue by NFL teams, especially once the postseason All Star games and Combine start. The quarterback class appears to be wide open right now. There's a lot of football to be played, but Dysert figures to be a quarterback whose stock will rise as the process goes along.