It’s an open competition at quarterback for the Muscatine football team less than a month away from its season opener. After an offseason of work and day one of the Muskie Football Camp, coach Jake Mueller says junior Zander Morgan and senior Sam Wieskamp are on equal footing in the competition.
Wieskamp served as the backup varsity quarterback last year, while Morgan was the primary quarterback on the sophomore team last fall. Mueller also feels comfortable with Jake Draves, who will play receiver and played quarterback on the sophomore team when Morgan started at safety in Week 9.
“They both have good arms,” Mueller said of Wieskamp and Morgan. “It’s going to be a good competition, and we’ll see how things play out.”
The Muskies return plenty of experience from last year’s team that finished with a 5-4 record, led by senior Takpor Tiah and juniors Eli Gaye and Tim Nimely. Mueller, who says his team is ahead of where it was a year ago, liked what he saw the first day of team camp.
“We got a lot of good work in this summer, so I felt like (Tuesday) was pretty good,” Mueller said. “We ran a little different format than the last few years, having varsity coaches help freshmen and freshman and sophomore coaches help varsity kids.
“I felt like we got a lot done, and every day we just have to get a little bit better.”
Gaye and Nimely headline a deep and talented group at the skill positions on offense, which will contribute to the development of either Wieskamp or Morgan at quarterback.
“Sam (Wieskamp) has a really good grasp of the offense right now,” Mueller said. “Zander (Morgan) is an outstanding athlete, and he brings a lot to the table.”
As for if Mueller will have the quarterback competition sorted out before the season, the coach says it’s still too early to know.
“We’re going to do what’s best for our team,” Mueller said. “At some point, whoever can execute the offense and move the ball and score points is eventually who will probably get most of the time. I’m not opposed to playing two. We’ll see how things play out.”
Although the Muskies return more contributors than either of the past two seasons, a lot of their seniors don’t have much of varsity experience. For that reason, Mueller admitted the Muskies “might not progress as quickly,” as he’d like.
Case in point, the Muskies spent a good portion of camp going over the basics with the linebackers and offensive line, two units hit hard by graduation last season.
“We graduated quite a few offensive linemen and most of our linebackers from last year,” Mueller said. “We’ve got a lot of room to grow and figure stuff out there.”
Although Mueller was pleased with what he saw in day one of camp, he expects more out of his team in the next few days with the official start of practice and a home contest with Davenport Central Friday, Aug. 30 looming.
“We’re in summer mode, and we have to get out that and understand the season is here,” Mueller said. “We have just a finite amount of time to get ready. We have to improve the sense of urgency in the tempo.”