BBN Preview: OSU DBs vs. Miami Passing Game

(This is part of the Buckeye Blogger Network Preview of the Miami (OH) game. We are trying a new distributed preview each week where the participating blogs each focus on a particular match-up for the upcoming game. This is a work in progress, but we would love to hear your feedback.)

Ohio State’s defensive backs versus Miami’s Passing Game

Believe it or not, the Ohio State secondary may actually face a legitimate test this weekend. Miami returns senior QB Zac Dysert, who despite being completely unknown is almost certainly going to top Ben Roethlisberger’s career passing total this season. (He needs exactly 2300 yards, which he should hit before November, barring injury.) Dysert has been progressing each season and last year completed nearly 66% of his passes with a TD/INT ratio of 23:11. I expect this to be his offense under 2nd-year head coach Don Treadwell, and if he can continue his progression, he should put up some dazzling numbers. He’s also faced Big Ten defenses in the past (albeit Minnesota’s defense, but still) so he’s seen Big Ten-ish size and speed.

Helping Dysert out with this task are three of Miami’s top four receivers from last year, including junior phenom Nick Harwell, who hauled in an astounding 1425 yards on 97 catches last year and finished second in the nation with 129.5 yards per game. On the bright side for Ohio State is the fact that last year Miami threw to their TEs at a sub-Tresselian rate and Dysert is not a threat to run. If the Buckeye DBs can cover standard routes and keep Harwell in check, they should give the D-line plenty of time to put Dysert on the turf.

And put him to the turf they probably will. Miami gave up the most sacks per game (excepting Pitt) in Division 1A college football at a clip of almost 4 sacks per game. The offensive line is a mishmash of out of position players (left guard Matt Kennedy was working out at tight end this spring before moving back to the offensive line after Zach Lewis was concussed during fall camp), recovering injured players (previously mentioned Zach Lewis will still start at LT) and seniors that have not been able to produce in the past. The defensive line, with the rotation available to Fickell and company, should get consistent and serious pressure on Dysert. That should alleviate some of the pressure off the defensive backs.

Fortunately, Ohio State brings back every starter in the back four, with safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett and corners Travis Howard and Bradley Roby, not to mention solid contributor Ohrian Johnson. With what looks to be a dominant front seven locking down the line of scrimmage, the defensive backfield will be free to draw on their experience and instincts to corral the RedHawk receiving corps and take advantage of pressured throws to produce turnovers, an area of emphasis in Urban Meyer’s defensive strategy.

Overall, I expect Dysert to have a so-so day in the Shoe before moving on to torch the MAC. There’s no way to keep he and Harwell from hooking up on at least a handful of plays, but the constant pressure will have him off-balance. If Meyer lets up in garbage time, that’s where they’ll do their damage.

The other Buckeye Blog Network Previews:

Buckeye Empire – Miami’s Running Game
Men of the Scarlet and Gray – Miami’s Passing game vs. Ohio State’s defensive backs
Our Honor Defend – Ohio State’s Running Game
The Silver Bullet – Ohio State’s passing game
The Buckeye Battle Cry – Special Teams
The Buckeye Blog – The Coaching Match-up


  1. I think the passing numbers are going to be skewed due to Miami being consistently down by three touchdowns and passing out of necessity early and often.

    Also, if I was Zac’s mom, I probably wouldn’t watch this game. That, or file for a restraining order against John Simon.

  2. Miami gave up a TON of sacks last year and have starters on the Oline returning…which isn’t a good thing.


  1. […] – The Men of the Scarlet and Gray break down Zac Dysert and the prolific passing game. […]

  2. […] – The Men of the Scarlet and Gray break down Zac Dysert and the prolific passing game. […]

  3. […] Men of the Scarlet and Gray: Ohio State’s defensive backs vs. Miami’s Passing Attack […]

  4. […] Men of the Scarlet and Gray: Miami Passing Vs OSU Secondary […]

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