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But the team was fully committed to the pistol.

“We just made a resolution that we would go through all spring doing that,” said Arkansas offensive line coach Chris Klenakis, who was offensive coordinator at Nevada from 2004-09. “Footballs were flying everywhere; it was an experiment in progress. We went through it, but the best thing we did is we had the guts to stick with it because nobody had done it before. The next season, we won a championship and it’s taken off from there.”

There has been a steady stream of coaches showing up in Reno and dialing up Ault looking for advice ever since.

UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel came calling after last season.

“Most great ideas are born of necessity,” he said. “We needed to run the football better. Looking at the equipment that we had with respect to personnel and what we were trying to get accomplished my first two years at UCLA, it just wasn’t working. We had to accept that.”

While Neuheisel said the Bruins still have a lot of learning to do, so far the change has to be rated a success.

UCLA (2-2) is third in the Pac-10 in rushing at 218 yards per game, and the Bruins hammered Texas for 264 yards in a 34-12 upset in Austin last week.

But the pistol doesn’t fire magic bullets.

Indiana began using it last season to boost it’s running game after it went from mobile quarterback Kellen Lewis running its spread offense to current starter, Ben Chappell, who is more of a dropback passer.

The Hoosiers rank last in the Big Ten in rushing this year and were among the worst last season, too.

Teams such as Oklahoma, Alabama and Arkansas just dabble with the pistol formation.

“All we’re doing when we put the guy in the pistol is we’re putting our (running back) directly behind the guy instead of on the side,” Sooners offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. “That’s to hide a tendency you might have and that’s to get your running back downhill instead of sideways so much.

“We’re not running the zone-read options or the inside, mid-line veers or read options.”

So what makes it tough to defend?

Texas Tech linebacker Bront Bird played at Nevada in 2008 and the Red Raiders won 35-19. He said the pistol causes problems for linebackers who try to decipher which way a play is going by watching the running back’s first step.

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