Oklahoma football: Pistol formation is Sooner offense's 'significant wrinkle'

OU FOOTBALL — Over the summer, Oklahoma football coaches brought in former Nevada coach Chris Ault to help implement a new offensive wrinkle. Ault, the creator of the pistol formation, spent two days in Norman helping the Sooners learn the formation and the options that come with it.
by Ryan Aber Published: September 6, 2013

“It was ugly,” Ault said. “There were snaps all over the place, the timing wasn't there, but I was very optimistic. I could see if we could get it — if you can get the timing down — I felt that this thing could be advantageous for us.”

But after averaging less than 20 points in their first three games, Nevada averaged nearly 40 in their final nine, including a bowl victory.

Less than three years later, Ault watched as LSU ran the pistol in its 38-24 win over Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game.

Since then, the offense has exploded across football — college, high schools and even the NFL. Ault's former quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, runs the pistol with the San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks, Redskins and other NFL teams are also utilizing a form of the offense.

The Sooners went through some growing pains in the spring with the installation of the offense. It's also part of the reason Stoops kept OU's practices closed.

“I didn't get frustrated,” Stoops said. “I just knew it was gonna take time. And again, probably you see why too, we protect our practices. Everybody isn't out there filming it, everybody doesn't know what we're doing on both sides of the ball early in the season.”

Ault wasn't able to watch last week's game as he returned home to Reno, Nev., after spending some time with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he said he hoped to see the Sooners run his offense soon.

Oklahoma's opponent Saturday, West Virginia, also runs the pistol at times and used it with some success last week against William and Mary.

Later this month, the Sooners will face another team that brought Ault in over the summer when they travel to Notre Dame.

“I thought if you could take the quarterback, move him off the line and keep the running back at the same depth he'd be at in the I-formation and see if you can coordinate a downhill running game, it would be advantageous to you in the pass and the run,” Ault said. “That's really how it all started. The advantages in my mind, and I'm very biased, in the pistol offense your downhill offense is excellent. It's an I-formation without a lead fullback. If you run a little bit of the read (option), you don't have to run as much as we did, but you run a little bit of it and it becomes a two-back offense with one running back back there.”

by Ryan Aber
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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* Born: Nov. 8, 1946

* Head coach: Nevada (1976-1992, 1994-1995, 2004-2012).

* Record: 233-109-1

* Current job: Consultant, Kansas City Chiefs

* Notable: Creator of the pistol offense. … Was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002. … Coached current 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick at Nevada. … The field at Mackay Stadium, Nevada's home field, will be renamed after Ault prior to Nevada's home opener against UC-Davis. … Coached the Wolf Pack to bowl appearances in each of his final eight seasons. … Played quarterback at Nevada from 1965-68.

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