With the rise of the Pistol formation as the next biggest thing in college football, plenty of teams have been happy to adopt it due to the variety of options, and the ability of offensive coordinators to use it both to force the run by putting 8-9 guys in the offensive box and also, as an ancillary, to produce one-on-one matchups for receivers on the outside, creating potential for mismatches and big gains or red-zone scores.
The Diamond Formation is an off-shoot of the Pistol and allows teams — like the Texas Longhorns — to have up to three backs in the backfield together in a single set creating multiple looks. Texas used five “running backs” in the 56-7 victory over the New Mexico State Aggies in Week 1, all at different times and in different roles.
Two running backs are traditionally off-set against the quarterback, with another back lining up directly behind the quarterback. The way these backs are off-set can vary widely, and when they are spread out the most it resembles a “diamond” hence the nickname. Out of the diamond, the larger of the backs can become a lead-blocker or can grind for short-yardage. Any of the three backs can catch passes in the flats and as stated, one-on-one matchups can be created on the outside due to the defense having to focus on the interior.
This is all in best case scenarios, obviously.
In Week One, Daje Johnson and Malcolm Brown saw greater success catching passes out of the backfield than in taking carries for yardage, while John Gray, Jalen Overstreet and Joe Bergeron had more traditional afternoons, with Overstreet shining the brightest of the three. Texas briefly flashed the Diamond formation against the Aggies on a couple of occasions, but the plays run out of it were much more vanilla than could will be run in more important games when the Longhorns are willing to fully show their hand.
With rumblings that Texas will do what it can to get the ball in John Gray’s hands more often this weekend in Provo as they take on the BYU Cougars, the Diamond set may take a back seat for a while in favor of more traditional power running sets to allow for this. To avoid future “D.J. Monroe scenarios”, however, the Diamond formation could well become a serious part of the Texas arsenal.
After all, why waste the talent available to you?
When you have the chance to put a few different guys out there at once who each provide something different, and cause a quandary, why wouldn’t you use that to your advantage?
If there’s one thing Major Applewhite has at his disposal, it’s a variety of talent.