I have to admit, I'm a huge fan of the diamond formation that Oklahoma runs. After making its debut in 2010 the formation basically disappeared in 2011 as Josh Heupel took the reigns of the offense. However, it has made a return in 2012 in such a fashion that leads us to believe it could be a regular feature in the offensive attack. The Sooners have sprinkled the formation into the first two games of the season and even scored a touchdown out of it against Florida A&M.
The positive to the formation is that it literally gives the defense four options to read on any given play. With three running backs and the threat to pass an opposing defense has to be assignment sound to keep a big play from developing.
However, as the play above demonstrates, there are things that the Oklahoma offense is doing that gives them the same advantages of the diamond from the pistol formation. I'll show you how in this week's film study.
Oklahoma starts out in the pistol formation with Kenny Stills in the slott, Justin Brown at the top and Trey Metoyer at the bottom of the field. In the backfield are fullback Trey Millard and running back Dominique Whaley. Stills goes in motion and look where he is when the ball is snapped. The Sooners are basically in the diamond at the time of the snap with the advantage of already having a man on the move.
Look at what this does to the defense. All of the linebackers are now focused on the left side of Oklahoma's offense, as are the safeties. This play will eventually be a roll out dump pass to the fullback but it should be noticed that the motion and subsequent play-action will leave Justin Brown in one-on-one coverage at the top.
All three linebackers get sucked into the play-action and by the time they read that its a pass play they are grossly out of position. Look at the passing lane that Landry Jones has here. Justin Brown is at the top of the screen and Millard has come across on the screen. Again, its worth noting that Stills and Whaley are wide open as well should Jones turn his shoulders and look back.
Jones sees the safety underneath of Justin Brown so he makes the easy dump pass to Millard and the race to the first down marker is on. The safety is the only defender with the chance of stopping Millard and unfortunately for him he's left in a
no win one-on-one situation. I'll take Millard vs. any defensive back in the nation any day.
After Millard trucks the safety he easily has a first down. Because of the multiple options, Millard is five yards down field before he draws any contact and steps out of bounds ten yards from the line of scrimmage. There aren't any defenders there until Millard steps out either.
Because of the threat of the run opposing defenses have to stay honest when the Sooners show that they may keep it on the ground. Obviously this works in OU's favor and the more success they have on the ground the more yards plays like this will chew up.
This is only one set that Oklahoma runs from these type of formations and the defense getting a pre-snap read is next to impossible. Kansas State will be left with the decision to play the run or play the pass against Oklahoma on Saturday night but above all else they will have to play assignment sound football. Even at that, these plays go in so many different directions that they only way to beat them is to get penetration along the offensive line and into the backfield. Doing so, however, leaves the defense vulnerable to screens and being attacked with the rushing attack.
That's where the advantage comes in because it takes pressure off the offensive line in terms of blocking schemes. Because of the nature of the play the linebackers are going to flow towards the direction where the ball is or towards where they think the ball is. The defensive end will have to think about containing and going wide before crashing in at the running backs. This basically leaves guards one-on-one with the defensive tackles without the necessity to drive them in a specific direction.
Its not an easy solution to find and that's why Oklahoma runs it. I would hope that we see more of these type of plays as the season progresses because its almost an automatic four yards and the "big play" potential is huge.