With Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon committed to returning in 2011, the plan was to keep much of Dana Holgorsen's spread offense intact.
Kept, too, was an often overlooked page – well, cocktail napkin – from Holgorsen's private play-calling collection: the not-so-spread power diamond formation.
And we've seen it more and more in recent weeks, with the Cowboys packing some pop into their run game – while also creating one-on-one opportunities for Blackmon – utilizing the three-back, heavy-set look drawn up by Holgorsen during a Grand Lake retreat before last season.
“It gives us another phase or another part of our game,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, “and it's a simple way for a quarterback to tell whether he should attack the defense with the run or the pass.”
Saturday against Baylor, the Pokes punished the Bears on the ground, going for a two-year rushing high of 327 yards, averaging 12.1 yards per carry.
Not all that production sprung from the diamond, but a chunk did, along with two fade throws from Weeden to Blackmon for touchdowns.
“It's just something we thought we could do against them,” said Cowboys offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who inherited the formation from Holgorsen. “We have probably a few more things we could have done out of it.”
The diamond, which this season typically uses fullbacks Kye Staley and David Paulsen along with either Joseph Randle or Jeremy Smith, never seemed to jibe with Holgorsen's wide-open approach. Yet with a still-developing wide receiver corps, Holgorsen was sharp to find ways to best employ Kendall Hunter.
For these Cowboys, and their opponents, it's an added look.
And added versatility.
“We have Blackmon as a threat, and they might double team him,” Staley said, “so that opens up a lot of options. I just feel like we take advantage of it whenever we get a chance to run it.”