Thursday, December 2, 2010
Sooners' 'Diamond' could give them edge
By David Ubben
Nebraska's defense has been at its best during the final month of the season, looking more and more like the dominant 2009 version of the Blackshirts.
Kansas managed just three points, five first downs and 87 yards against them.
Texas A&M couldn't score a touchdown at home against Nebraska, settling for three field goals.
Colorado trailed 31-3 to the Huskers before adding a pair of second-half touchdowns in a 45-17 loss.
Landry Jones and the Sooners used their "Diamond" formation effectively against Oklahoma State.
Moving the ball on the Blackshirts has been difficult. Scoring has been harder. Oklahoma will experience that on Saturday against the Huskers, but the Sooners' latest offensive wrinkle may give them an edge.
It goes by a handful of names, but "Diamond" is the most common. Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones takes the snap with fullback Trey Millard on one side, a running back on the other and another running back behind him. Expect a combination of DeMarco Murray, Roy Finch and Mossis Madu this week, depending on how much or if Murray can play after injuring his knee against Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma used the formation often against Oklahoma State, including heavy use during an 82-yard touchdown drive that put the Sooners up 7-0 early.
That's a bit ironic, considering the Sooners poached the formation from the Cowboys, and debuted it a week earlier against Baylor. Frankly, despite its late addition to the Sooners' repertoire, they used it much more effectively than their in-state rivals.
Nebraska won't have much to see on film and study up on the formation, but defensive end Jeremy Beal has seen plenty of it during practice.
"It’s difficult at times [to stop], but if you read your keys and play it right, it’s not that difficult," Beal said.
Oklahoma State's defense certainly made it look difficult. The Sooners' collection of misdirections and quick handoffs, as well as power runs, screens and downfield passes out of the formation baffled the Cowboys, who gave up 47 points to the Sooners' offense.
A defense's unfamiliarity with a scheme, especially new ones, can make it look more difficult to stop than it actually is, but the Sooners are likely to test the Huskers' ability to do exactly that with the Big 12 title on the line.
The more teams ran the Wildcat, the less effective it became. The Sooners' Diamond package is still relatively new. Whether or not Nebraska can send it out of style early on Saturday should have a big impact on who leaves as Big 12 champions.