IOWA CITY — Coaches aren’t the only ones challenged in choosing between the two most experienced quarterback candidates on the Iowa football team.
Teammates say junior Tyler Wiegers and sophomore Nathan Stanley are similar in many respects, so similar that they have no idea who will emerge as the Hawkeyes’ starter in 48 days when Iowa kicks off the 2017 season against Wyoming at Kinnick Stadium.
“I don’t see a lot of difference between them at this point, honestly,’’ senior tight Peter Pekar said. “They are on a pretty even playing field with a new offense. They’re similar guys in a lot of ways. They’re smart guys. They’re working hard.’’
And right now, teammates say both are competing with an understanding that there's plenty at stake.
“They both want the job. It’s like any position, they’re pushing each other to get better,’’ Pekar said. “There really isn’t a noticeable difference between the two of them right now.’’
Wiegers has been around the Hawkeye program longer. He’s a fourth-year junior.
Stanley is a true sophomore.
Both have seen only limited snaps at Iowa.
Wiegers played in four games in 2015, completing 3-of-4 passes for 32 yards. Stanley was the backup last fall, connecting on 5-of-9 attempts for 62 yards in seven games.
Physically, they are similar.
Wiegers is listed at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. Stanley measures up at 6-5, 212.
Both are working with a new, but well-seasoned quarterbacks coach in Ken O’Keefe who returned to the Hawkeye program this spring after spending the past five seasons on the Miami Dolphins’ staff.
Both are also working to understand the nomenclature introduced this year by new offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz.
“They’re doing a good job and they’re showing us every day that they are going to be great leaders and competitors for us,’’ running back Akrum Wadley said.
Center James Daniels said both have similar personalities.
“They are pretty much the same person,’’ Daniels said. “They are both quiet and they take what they’re doing seriously. I think we can win games with whoever the coaches decide on.’’
Wadley said both are making progress as Iowa works through its summer drills, gaining trust behind center as they compete to become the replacement for C.J. Beathard.
“But, I don’t think anybody could pick one over the other right now,’’ Wadley said. “It’s neck and neck. From what I’ve seen, it may stay that way for a while.’’
Coach Kirk Ferentz said following spring practices that coaches expected the competition to continue into fall camp.
He wants more consistent performances compared to what both displayed during the Hawkeye spring game.
That April night, Wiegers went 12-of-23 for 99 yards but was intercepted twice. Stanley completed 6-of-17 passes for 13 yards, throwing both one interception and one touchdown.
Ferentz indicated that ideally, he would like to have a starter emerge at least a couple of weeks before the Hawkeyes’ Sept. 2 season opener.
Iowa players aren’t so sure that will happen.
“They both have great arms and are leaders,’’ Wadley said. “They both take charge when needed. It will be a hard decision, but we all believe the coaches will get it figured out and go with who is best for our team.’’
Pekar said both seem to be getting a better grasp on the offense as summer work continues.
“You can tell that they are getting more comfortable. Part of what they do is to teach the rest of us the nuances of the offense and as we pick things up, you can sense that their level of confidence is growing,’’ Pekar said. “We’re moving forward and so are they. That’s a big part of what this time of the year is about.’’