An Unlikely Candidate for Offensive Coordinator but a Good One: Chris Klenakis

A few weeks ago, my brother mentioned (on another well-known VT message board) the name Chris Klenakis as a possible replacement for Bryan Stinespring as offensive coordinator. I thought nothing more of it until today as I continued to ponder the future of our offense and our dwindling options as the proven coordinators that are available have already been picked off. I started to dig, wondering who this guy was...

The pistol has been well-chronicled by French and others here on TKP. To be short, it's fast-hitting, power-running, shotgun/spread hybrid. We've all read French on the Bench. I need not go into it any further. It is becoming quite the popular offensive style, even being used in NFL more and more.

What you may not know is that it was basically invented by Chris Ault, the current Nevada head coach AND, Chris Klenakis, his offensive coordinator at the time. Chris Klenakis coached at Nevada from 1990-2011, minus a four year stint. His last six years there were as the offensive coordinator/oline coach. He is obviously a very loyal guy, something that Frank Beamer holds in very high regard. He even shunned Texas away because he wanted to stay loyal to his old teammate and (then) current head coach, Bobby Petrino. Yes -- This may be the mark against him. But ... we've all been looking for an offensive identity, an offensive coordinator who is a master of his craft? As tacky as it sort of is, this guy knows the pistol well enough to sell itin DVD format.

We can afford the guy. According to this article, he was making $266,000 at Arkansas in January of this year. Surely, we can afford more than that to an offensive coordinator AND offensive line coach?

Look at the stats from 2007-2011 while he was OC at Nevada:

Click for bigger

How is this guy available? I gather that he took off for new opportunity (in the SEC) and to coach with his old teammate and buddy, while likely getting a pay raise. Obviously, Bobby Petrino screwed that up for Klenakis and everyone else on his staff. Bielema has decided to hire Sam Pittman, from Tennessee, as his offensive line coach, leaving Klenakis unemployed. I don't expect him to be unemployed long. He was extremely successful at Nevada. The stats prove it and the pistol is a very balanced offense that is centered around quick hitting power running (what Coach Frank Beamer really wants). He is very loyal, KNOWS the system that he coaches, is available, is probably affordable.

Aside from a few other, not-as-experienced choices, he seems like one of our best options. Imagine a true pistol offense on the east coast... So, what are we waiting on?

Seems like a hard-nosed coach and a stand-up guy:

DISCLAIMER: Blog posts may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.



If we do hire someone that runs the pistol heavy, that fits what Beamer praised about Clemson, and Clemson runs out of the Pistol about 90% of the time (French, can you confirm?).

The Pistol is actually an interesting concept. It's based off on the old single-wing and wing-T offense system, and can be devastating to opponents. The Redskins is the perfect example of how a Pistol with the right quarterback can do a lot of damage. Of course, having RG3 helps and a bulldozer running back in Morris helps takes the load off of Griffin.

That lead me to ponder this: if LT3 returns for one more year, a surprise for me, and Edwards emerge as the best running back, and the receiver corps flourish with diva MD7 gone from the team, I can honestly see the Pistol wrecking havoc in the ACC. LT3 is a threat to run every time he keeps the option, but I want to see him evolve into a true pocket passer a la Big Ben.

However, I think that Tech needs to bring back the old power I offense that they used to be. They would ram the ball down the opponent's throats repeatedly and without mercy. Of course, having a decent mashing o-linemen would help a ton.

The kind of offense need to compliment Bud's defense. Is the Pistol offense system the answer? Will it fit the current roster of talented players? Those are the questions that needs to be examined in harsh lights.

I support Logan Thomas and make no apologies for it.

LT3 needs to sit down and watch highlights of RG3 this offseason. If this is the type of offense we plan to run, Logan needs to get better at running it along witht the rbs and o line. My main point is that he needs to let the ball go in to rbs hands a lot more times than he does to set up the keeper/ play action fake. RG3 runs this to perfection, he sets up the keeper with just handing off the dive almost everytime, also he we will fake the dive and pull up quick pass or long bomb to wide open wr everytime. Logan and our offense need to sit down and watch the Redskins run this offense and go out make 2013 a special year for us.

There are wolves and there are sheep, I am the sheep dog

I formation vs Power I

We did not run a Power I offense. We ran an I-formation offense. The Power I has been our goal-line formation for many years, but it has never been a typical/standard formation for us.

Our problem in the running game has been that our O line doesn't play fast and agressive because our O line coach sucks. There's too much emphasis on positioning and shielding and not enough on just blasting your man to the turf. As a result we're decent at pass blocking and terrible at run blocking. Prior to that, when stinespring was the OL coach, we were good at run blocking and mediocre at pass blocking. What we really need is an OL coach who can teach both techniques.

Wiley, Brown, Russell, Drakeford, Gray, Banks, Prioleau, Charleton, Midget, Bird, McCadam, Pile, Hall, Green, Fuller, Williams, Hamilton, Rouse, Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Hosley, Fuller, Exum, Jarrett

Clemson does not run the Pistol. Clemson runs an H back driven Wing-T/Single Wing hybird.

In theory, the Pistol allows the offense to run veer read option while allowing the offense to run a basic, one back zone read, but with the QB having the ability to get the ball to the back quicker, allowing more time to read the defense and cut off zone reads. The Hokie efforts to run the pistol were derailed by a number of issues that I plan on covering in the offseason:

1) Logan Thomas was ill-suited to the pistol. He doesn't have the ability to bootleg effectively and the footwork was a challenge.

2) The Hokies never committed to establishing inside and outside veer dive.

3) The Hokies attempted to use the pistol to run their traditional zone and stretch plays, but the interior guard play allowed too much back side pursuit and the tight ends, especially Eric Martin and Randall Dunn, did not effectively seal the edge.

That being said I would be excited about the hire, but because he does not have any ties to Beamer or the Commonwealth, I think it is unlikely.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

clemson had a ton plays out of a pistol formation though. they may not have been the same "pistol offense" plays that Nevada runs but they were certainly in a pistol formation quite frequently - whether with TE, H-back or offset FB.

Wiley, Brown, Russell, Drakeford, Gray, Banks, Prioleau, Charleton, Midget, Bird, McCadam, Pile, Hall, Green, Fuller, Williams, Hamilton, Rouse, Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Hosley, Fuller, Exum, Jarrett

If Only

I hate to say it, but I don't think we're gonna see too many changes on the offensive side of the ball. I just have a feeling that we'll see the exact same playbook and playing style trot off the sidelines for a few too many three and outs next year. I don't mean to be pessimistic, but I just don't have a good gut feeling about this whole "staff change" business.


Those on this board are consistent with placing 100% blame on the coaching staff. So how does that correct the huge number of errors centered around the qb position that we saw all year long? The errors are mainly poor execution due to poor performance.

Coaches are responsible but not directly.

Fix that and get a power running back, and all should be better on that side of the ball. The defense isn't without its lack of performance (Pitt, Cincy, UNC, Clemson). Need to address that to. Special teams weren't always stellar either (Miami).

To think one or two coaching changes will change everything is absurd.


The rest of the team was never flawless. No one is saying that. However, despite the fact that this is the first year Tech has lost so many games in recent memory, this is not the first year in recent memory that we have had a bit of a pedestrian offensive attack. We've had some great athletes make up for some things over the years, but we haven't really been an offense that you could consistently expect to score in large quantities for a while. With a few exceptions, the defense has been good for many years. Special teams has been on the decline lately. All things considered, I would say that offense has been the weakest part of the team for a few years now, and people are tired of that.

I think you're missing the point.

Our offense has been consistently mediocre or worse. The only reason we've had our consistent 10-win seasons is because our defense is almost always stellar. Part of our problem this year was that the defense wasn't too hot right out of the gate, and the offense wasn't good enough to account for that. In order to go from a consistently good team to a consistently great team, we need an offense that can move the ball consistently, in addition to our stiff defense. "Defense wins championships" isn't as true any more as it once was, you need to have at least a decent offense to get anywhere.

And to your point about LT3's errors this year, better coaching breeds better execution. The coaches aren't out there on the field, the coaches spend their entire week making sure that when the team takes the field they are prepared. The fact that he seemed to get worse as the season went on is particularly concerning.

I am not sure if you saw my final film review (Boston College), but it was highly critical of Logan Thomas, as he went through the entire game completing only one NFL caliber throw (the fade route to Davis.) Sometimes, every player successfully completed their task with one exception, and the exception killed the play. Those plays were not the coaches fault.

My issue with the coaching staff is the mish/mash philosophy and the insistence on playing guys which sabotage the good work of other players. Perhaps even more important than scheme, a coach must take the talent he has and put it in position to succeed. Time and again, the offensive staff played guys like David Wang, Eric Martin, and Dyrell Roberts, and then called plays/used systems that required them to complete assignments that they were not physically capable or willing to perform. I have been hard on Wang, but an average ACC guard would have a difficult time reach blocking an eagled nose tackle on a power play. Eric Martin down blocking an All ACC defensive end against North Carolina is an unfair matchup. Dyrell Roberts clearly was not going to make any effort to block, yet they continued to run wide sweeping plays that WILL NOT WORK without an effective option stalk. Either you get guys on the field who can play, or you maximize the effectiveness of the guys you have and hide their weaknesses.

This offensive staff failed miserably in both regards, and in order to fix it, there must be commitment to an identity and autonomous offensive coaches who know how to teach the system and then call it within the flow of a game. Beamer's decisions about the offense should be limited to who he hires, and if they go for it on fourth down. End of story.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Agree with what you are saying. I have never seen offensive line personnel change from series to series like VT did this year. Lineman (and really anybody else) need to get into a flow. Mass substitution disrupts the flow, especially on the offensive line where cohesion and unity and knowing your teammate are most important.

Most coaches will put the best 22 players on the field and stick with it. Exception may be certain packages on Defense (like the nickel). But the core group doesn't change except in the case of injury. This shows the coaches are committed to these 22 players, afterwhich the player's confidence grows.

So putting players in a position of failure, or not sticking to a core of players, or telling a player he is going to start and then he doesn't, or pulling players and then platooning, all destroys confidence. I see that being the biggest issue with this team, which boils down to coaching and coaches developing confident players. I see the problem as teamwide though. Also have to put some of it on the players too. LT doesn't bounce back from a mistake very well. One mistake tends to bring on many more. If all is going well, he can be a really good qb.

Position coaches vs coordinators vs players

It is up to the position coaches to recruit and develop talent by teaching skills and techniques. The coordinator puts it all together to design plays and the overall team philosophy. The design, timing, and execution of plays definitely requires individual skills. However, if you don't have the individual skills to execute a play properly it is a poorly designed play. Individual skills that affect execution are speed, quickness, strength, vision, recognition, balance, footwork, etc... Although players are the ones that actually perform on the field, the coaches sure have a large impact on the development, preparation, practice, and play-calling that will affect the outcome.

Coaches and ultimately the coordinator need a game plan that has a reasonable chance of success using the talent they have available. If you don't practice enough under game speed to perfect a play it probably won't work in a real situation. If you cannot find ways to adapt to defensive adjustments you will also fail. These are coaching issues.

My criticism is not that the offensive coaches don't work hard and do some things well. It is that they are not good enough to recruit more talent, develop it, plan and successfully execute a game plan (under pressure) that will lead to a National Championship team. The defense seems capable of doing it. If a NC is what CFB and VT want then coaching changes are overdue.

#Let's Go - Hokies

Would be an exciting hire but, like French already said, no ties to Beamer (or even VA) so I doubt its even a consideration. If we do in fact bring in a new OC (something I will believe when I see) I really think it will be Fridge. He is a known quantity to Beamer, fits right in, and (thinking long term) could mentor a younger guy like Shane to eventually take the reigns (and Shane has already coached under him.) Anything else would totally shock me.

I know it's doubtful that CFB even looks at this guy. I think that Beamer lives in a vacuum sometimes. French thinks that he looks to ODU. I'd be OK with that as long as some running game is mixed in. I know some have mentioned Dana Bible. Not sure if there is any connection with him

Bible's son Logan plays HokieBall.

Here's a comparison of their offense's production over the last 10 seasons. Closer to the x-axis is better.

On average, Bible's offenses are ranked 10 spots higher in total offense. He's probably had less talent at his disposal than Stiney over the years. I wouldn't be overly thrilled with that hire, but I can see it happening.

He had a scary bout with leukemia. Great story, but not good for long term health of the football program (or recruiting.)

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I think it's very interesting guy..

He has an identity in the offense that we dabbled in some this year and is an offensive line coach as well which is a HUGE need. With Kapaernick balling out and RG3 running pistol in DC he could be a great sell.

I don't know of any connection to the current staff, Frank Beamer, or the area but you never know what can happen. He is still available and he has prior success as an offensive coordinator which is a huge IMO. He already has a twitter account @FBCoachK which is a plus in my book haha. The only connection I could see would be that for 1 season Shane and him were both in the SEC.

just stirring the pot because there isnt much else to talk about until the bowl game or after ... but

Jeff Long, the AD at Arkansas, was briefly the assistant AD at VT, before he left for his first AD job at Eastern Kentucky. I've read that they still keep in touch.

It looks like Klenakis will be let go after the bowl game as Bielema is bringing in Pittman as his OL coach. Maybe Jeff Long makes a quick phone call to Jim Weaver just to put a little plug in his ear ...

Is he even a contender for the Nevada job?

I haven't read anything about their coaching search, but they've got guys who were on staff under Ault recently that I'm sure are strong contenders.

Wiley, Brown, Russell, Drakeford, Gray, Banks, Prioleau, Charleton, Midget, Bird, McCadam, Pile, Hall, Green, Fuller, Williams, Hamilton, Rouse, Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Hosley, Fuller, Exum, Jarrett

no .. Nevada hired someone else .. Odd to me to be honest .. He's a Nevada guy through-and-through (maybe they had a problem with the way he left?).

Oh well .. Pep as OC. If they can't get Bloomgren, Klenakis for OL coach and running game coordinator. Let's go on a tear !!!!