Will Stein: Oregon’s New OC and Miracle-Maker?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

The title looks like classic hype to promote a blah-blah article, or serves as typical web click-bait. Yet those of you who have watched my videos and read my (Over 600) articles created over the last 11 years know I back up extraordinary claims with proof, or a logical rationale that makes sense. We want our bias confirmed, we want to believe that Will Stein, the new offensive coordinator for the Ducks, truly is a miracle-maker, so let’s take a look.

I was reading the usual great analysis article by hythloday1 over on Addicted to Quack, where he broke down the Will Stein offense at UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio) for the 2022 season where Stein was offensive coordinator and called the plays. I was surprised at the offensive results considering the obstacles faced, and the flexibility required by Coach Stein as it bodes well for his time at Oregon. Much of what you see below is from that article, only rewritten in my style with commentary to induce the pondering in you that I engaged in after reading this superb piece by hythloday1.

Keep in mind as we review results that although Oregon was the sixth ranked offense in the nation with the seventh ranked talent, UTSA in 2022 was ranked 26th in offense, yet the prior four years had recruiting classes for the Roadrunners that contained a whopping 45 recruits who were 2-Star players, and even four unrated players. Good gosh, I’ve never seen so many 2-Star listings for a team as I did researching San Antonio on Rivals.com, and while they play in a different league–it is apparent that these players have been placed in an offense they can execute, while also being coached-up.

You will find agreement between hythloday1, our own Coach Boles along with DazeNconfused concerning the Stein offense being similar enough to Coach Dillingham’s as to not require a major new offensive installation. This is in stark contrast to what Coach Stein had to deal with in San Antonio, as the Roadrunners ran three significantly different offensive attacks over the 2021-2022 seasons….and not by his choice. It was an amazing number of offensive changes formulated out of necessity, yet he created impressive results.

Our writing colleague at ATQ praised the Roadrunners for their statistical success…

“They graded out very well overall, with a combined per-play success rate of 63%, 7.5 adjusted yards per play, and about 16.5% explosiveness. That’s championship-caliber efficiency, though merely pretty good yardage and explosiveness.” “Over the 13 games I charted outside of garbage time, the Roadrunners had 281 successful designed passing plays vs 173 failed ones, or 62%, given the down & distance. They gained 9.2 adjusted yards per attempt and more than 19% gained 15+ yards, which are all borderline championship-caliber numbers in my experience.”

It began with so many offensive line injuries in the spring of 2022, (and the graduation of a lineman who started for the 49ers as a rookie) that Coach Stein had to change the UTSA offense drastically to where the first five games of 2022 were a heavily pass  concentration (65%) of which consisted of, “very quick passes like slants, hitches, and quick outs to the flat with basically no post-snap read and a virtually non-existent run game.”

Coach Will Stein has the complete passing attack for all circumstances.

The Stein running game in the first half of 2022 was primarily dependent upon a quarterback who was skillful at scrambling as they passed the ball nearly two-thirds of the time, and attempted it even more often. (Scrambles are running plays)

Yet hythloday1 noted a change of offense after the fifth week last year where…

“UTSA operated a balanced, RPO-heavy offense at a 47/53 run-pass split, with far fewer scrambles and more frequent deep shots from the pocket. The offensive line grades during this second part of the season improve somewhat, I think reflecting some better health and experience among the backups forced into action, but more importantly I believe was becoming significantly more diverse and no longer one-dimensional as an offense.

Stein committed to using an efficient but not explosive run game as well as RPOs to manipulate the defense and set up intermediate and deep passing. The success-rate splits are interesting to break out: rushing efficiency only goes up two percentage points during the second part of the season, but passing efficiency jumps by an incredible eight points.”

Hard to run the ball with so many injuries on the offensive line.

How bad was the offensive line situation at UTSA? I cannot write it as well as hythloday1, as he explained that it was…

“…one of the worst offensive line injury situations early in the 2022 season that I’ve ever encountered. By midway through the year UTSA had five different offensive tackles out with injury and were rotating guys out of position and playing a walk-on and a converted defensive lineman as starters. For much of the year I studied, UTSA’s offensive line grades on my tally sheet came out at over 30% error rates, which I’ve never seen before.”

Good gosh–how did Coach Stein get any offensive production at all, let alone those impressive numbers? In my view, the UTSA 2022 offensive numbers need to be considered as an incredible feat that was accomplished by Coach Stein; changing offenses, having new and inexperienced offensive linemen–yet scoring to this level? This is really not something that can be compared to Oregon’s offense, as Dillingham certainly did not have an arm tied behind his back while calling plays.

Was I exaggerating with the title? I think not, as his performance in 2022 as a first year play-caller was nothing short of a football miracle. I am sure you are feeling better about Coach Will Stein as I am, because such innovation and resourcefulness–such youthful flexibility will be needed at key moments in Pac-12, 2023 battles. Do join me with your thoughts in the only forum-with-decorum because…

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
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