NFL.com reports that the Kansas City Chiefs hired former Nevada head coach Chris Ault on Monday. Ault, who retired from his third tour as Wolf Pack head coach after the 2012 season, is joining Andy Reid’s staff as an offensive consultant. And when it comes to offense, Ault’s name is synonymous with the current buzzword of the NFL: Pistol.
Chris Ault is the innovator of the Pistol formation, which combines elements of the shotgun and Power-I sets. Nevada consistently boasted one of the most effective offenses in college football after Ault introduced the set there in 2004. The Pistol primarily operated as a run-heavy set, incorporating facets similar to a traditional option offense — most notably, use of a running quarterback.
Only recently, the Pistol has gained popularity in the professional ranks. Though systems with designed quarterback runs have typically between taboo in the NFL, the Pistol’s similarities to the traditional I-set make for a nice compromise. It allows dynamic, play making quarterbacks to flourish without overexposing them to defenders.
Ault’s Nevada pupil Colin Kaepernick is a leader of the NFL’s Pistol revolution. Kaepernick emerged as the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback midway through 2012, and led them within a play of winning Super Bowl XLVII.
The Pistol was never more effective than in Kaepernick’s final season running it. He rushed for 1206 yards and 20 touchdowns, but demonstrated how effective the Pistol can be with a capable passer as well. Kaepernick racked up over 3000 yards through the air.
The system isn’t just built to rush with the quarterback. Stefphon Jefferson, Nevada’s starting tailback in 2012, was the second leading rusher among all Bowl Subdivision players.
Ault’s presence on the Chiefs staff could be an indication that Reid will add some Pistol to his West Coast playbook. Having Ault aboard could also benefit the Kansas City defense — a unit couldn’t get much better insight into an offense’s nuances than directly from its creator.