Taking Nebraska’s “Diamond” out of the Rough

By at May 16, 2012 | 10:00 AM | Print

Taking Nebraska’s “Diamond” out of the Rough

Nebraska calls it their “30 Package.” ESPN’s Sean McDonough called it the “triangle” formation during Nebraska’s comeback win against Ohio State. It’s the “Diamond” formation to most college football fans. I personally call it “underused,” and I’m sure many Husker fans would agree.

With the Aaron Green’s transfer to TCU, where does that leave the fan favorite formation? Green may not have been the superstar of the offense, but he always brought a significant threat. He was quick, agile and could catch out of the backfield.  That’s a player opposing defenses have to account for.

And now he’s gone.

Where do the Huskers turn?

It all depends on how Tim Beck wants to continue using the 30 Package. Against Ohio State, the formation was used three times resulting in an 18 yard touchdown run by Taylor Martinez, a seven-yard gain by Aaron Green and a 36-yard touchdown pass to Quincy Enunwa, respectively. There are a few ways to use the package and replace Aaron Green in the process.

– Speed Package

Who: Jamal Turner

How: Zone Read, Sweeps, Pitches, Option

Why: One of the most significant advantages of the 30 Package is the numbers presented and the way a defense is forced to cover it. With nine offensive players in the box, the defense must do their best to match, forcing linebackers to play close. The defense’s tight grouping creates a blocking advantage for Nebraska, and is perfectly tailored for Jamal Turner’s speed.

I’d like to see Turner used in space the way Nebraska used Green. Place a few blockers in front of him and allow him to work. As shown below, Nebraska executed this with success against Ohio State. In the blue, Hardrick releases from his block to the linebackers with Long close behind.

At the same time, Abdullah acts as a lead blocker out of the backfield and cut down the remaining defensive end. Leave the rest of the work to Turner.

 – Power Package

Who: Mike Marrow and Imani Cross

How: Dives, Slams, Draws

Why: Rex Burkhead is a workhorse. We all know it and we all love it. However, you can’t ask a workhorse to do the job of an ox.

In the 30 Package, Marrow and Cross can be those oxen. With these power backs used in this offensive wrinkle, Burkhead can take a few snaps off and Nebraska can add some brute strength to the running game.

I see two excellent uses of the larger backs in the 30 Package. First, for dive plays or any other inside runs. There are a number of ways to rotate the backs and even more options on where to send them.  In this formation, the power backs can execute a number of inside runs from any spot around Martinez.

The second use of the power backs in this package is boring, predictable, and effective: Lead blockers. Imagine a sweep play to Rex Burkhead with two pulling linemen, Mike Marrow and Imani Cross clearing the way.  Beautiful.

– Pass Package

Who: Jamal Turner

How: Play Action, Shotgun Passes

Why: When Dana Holgersen featured the Diamond at Oklahoma State, he did so wanting to create man-on-man matchups for his receivers.  More specifically, he wanted to give man-on-man matchups to Justin Blackmon.  Thank you, Dana.

In Nebraska’s offense, the 30 Package could be featured with Rex Burkhead, Ameer Abdullah, Jamal Turner, Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa where Bell and Enunwa are in single coverage and the running backs are covered by linebackers.

Again: Thank you, Dana.

I once again invite you to look back at Nebraska’s use of the 30 Package against Ohio State.

On the third use of the formation, the Huskers had the Buckeye defense beat before the play even began. After the snap, things snowballed.

When Martinez fakes the handoff to Abdullah, the entire defense bites. The safety highlighted above (in red) had crept up toward the line of scrimmage before the snap. On the snap, each linebacker moves towards Burkhead and Abdullah.

Enunwa slides right past coverage on his way to a touchdown. All the while, Aaron Green was wide open on a Wheel Route down the sideline. The play showed how deadly the 30 Package can be for passing downs.

With Turner in, the 30 Package becomes a very effective passing setup.  As a part of the set, Nebraska threatens with three receivers and two very capable running backs. Against most 4-3 defenses, a 30 Package using Turner creates matchup nightmares.

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