Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Diamond Formation - Oklahoma Sooners

The Sooners showed an array of different plays from their use of the diamond formation, although once again none of it was truly revolutionary. Like the Cowboys and Horned Frogs they took a formation and ran their base offense from it. Lets take a look at what they showed against their rivals the Cowboys this year.

Inside Zone

The Sooners showed the same type of inside zone play as the Cowboys with the right halfback leading and the left halfback cutting off the defensive end pursuit from the backside.

Inside Zone Cross

The other version of inside zone that the Sooner's showed was a criss-crossing backfield action. On this particular play which is zone to the left the left halfback will cross the formation and cut off backside pursuit by the defensive end. The right halfback will flash fake in front of the QB and run an outside sweep path and the tailback will run his zone course. This was their most prominent way of running the inside zone.

This would have bee a good play had the back hit the hole to his right.


The Sooner's also showed a power play. This one is to the right with the right halfback kicking out the defensive end and the left guard leading through for the tailback. The left halfback sells his outside fake once again.

Dash Solid?

The final run play from Oklahoma was tough to figure out. I originally thought it was outside zone just glancing at the backfield action, however after seeing the blocking scheme upfront it more closely resembles the dash play that TCU ran, with one key difference. Instead of reading the frontside defensive end Oklahoma had him blocked by the play side halfback. Since they're blocking him I don't think we can really call this dash because it's not a read, but I'm not sure what to term it. The front side of the offensive line down blocks and the play side halfback cuts the defensive end.

Notice the cut block on the defensive end?

Play Action

Here is the first of three play action passes the Sooner's showed. The split end to the right will run a dig, with the other running a skinny post it appears. The backfield action resembles the inside zone crossing series

Jones will eventually hit the dig over the middle, which I've highlighted.


This next pass play looks like a basic waggle play, it is off of the inside zone action with a halfback and tailback faking one way and the opposite halfback sneaking under the formation into the flat. The halfback in the flat is a bear to cover because of the inside zone action with him crossing the QB's face to cut the defensive end, and on this instance running past him and uncovered into the flat. It was hard to tell which routes the split ends were running because Jones gets rid of the ball pretty quickly.


This is similar to the waggle, we have both halfbacks crossing the QB, this time however we will see the right side of the offensive line release downfield specifically to help seal the inside backers as Jones looks to dump a quick screen to the tailback. Along with the right side of the line the left halfback will lead for the tailback as well.

I'm sure Oklahoma did more out of this formation, as this was only a one game sample. The same can be said for OSU and TCU as well. A few parting points on the diamond:

1) It's only a formation.

2) However, with the said I think you can do a TON from this formation, as I've noted all three teams really didn't do anything outside of the box of what they would normally do on offense out of this formation.

3) I think this formation will get some more use this coming season from more college teams and I'll be interested to see some more misdirection run plays, and see what teams that do more gap-scheme blocking do in the running game.

4) I think you could adapt most offensive ideas to this set, and I think the three biggest things this formation offers to an offense are the possibility of a deceptive running game from the shotgun, a power running game from the gun, and the play-action passes off both of those.

5) Thanks to the poster who asked to see this, I not only was able to check into this formation but also into what Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and a little of TCU did this season. So many offenses, so little time.

If anyone ever has a suggestion or would like me to cover something in particular I'll do my best to research into the different offensive schemes and ideas of the college football landscape.


  1. Thank you very much. I appreciate the time you put to answer my request.

  2. No problem, hope it clarified some things.

  3. Can you elaborate on the Oklahoma State offense if you have the time ?


  4. What advantage does this give over running the wishbone? Why would this work with the passing game when other 3 back offenses don't? The shotgun doesn't help the running plays and I wouldn't think it would be that much of an advantage on the play-action passes. It's not like there are any non play-action passes in the package.

  5. triple option... the wishbone... both work in confusing the defense and opening up opportunities for the O... i just wish OU didn't a) have to steal it and came up with it on their own and b) didn't wait until 10 games in to finally use all of our running/tail backs... shows a lack of innovation, imho. let's hope the new coordination team is more forward-thinking...

  6. SInce we're dealing with innovative offenses. Someone should do a breakdown of some of the plays Nebraska ran in the first quarter vs #6 Missouri, that allowed Nebraska to be up 24-0 at the end of the first. Plenty of things that are not shown anywhere else in college football.

  7. Oklahoma State was running the diamond formation earlier in the season than OU. Breaking down the differences in the schools' use of the package would be nice.

  8. I'm using a similar formation in high school this season. I mainly run the triple/midline option with a toss sweep, counter and power. Most passes we run are PAP, and are nice to have against aggressive defenses. I went to it because I have more speed guys than power runners and I wanted to give my QB a little more time to read the dive. Since the dive can come from either wing and can either be straight ahead or cross to the opposite A gap, with a pitch option behind it, it's tough for the defense to second guess where the ball's going. So far so good.

  9. Really cool post! and very good insight. Its interesting to see where and how you can best use the talent on teams to dictate the formations you use.

  10. I started drawing plays with this diamond formation in 2006. My sons pop warner team ran some of them in 2007. And your imagination can see endless plays from it. The QB was under center though. Nice to see it is arriving!

  11. This works better than the wish bone because with only 1 up back his first step has more for the defence to key on, w/ 2 up backs, either one could be a lead back or so much more.

  12. I came up with an offense about three years ago that revolves around this formation. But the concepts of the scheme are veer option and mis-direction. there are endless possibilities once you play around with it and the motions you can add

  13. I would if you would do something similar for the belldozer formation and the package Oklahoma runs out of that

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  16. Well done... Thanks, Kevin

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