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'So far, so good': Riders offensive coordinator Mueller adjusting to new role at training camp

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Marc Mueller has plenty of football experience as a player and a coach – but he’s taking on a new role in the Canadian Football League (CFL) this year as an offensive coordinator.

“No matter what position you’re in, if you’re a position coach, you want to be the best position coach you can be for a coordinator,” Mueller said following day two of training camp. “That’s why I’ve been doing [this] for the past ten years and hopefully I can be the best offensive coordinator I can be for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.”

Mueller is a two-time Grey Cup Champion as an assistant coach with the Calgary Stampeders. He was their running back coach from 2015-2019, 2021 and quarterbacks coach until 2023.

He was hired by the Riders in December 2023 as the team’s newest offensive coordinator.

“Either they had a lot of faith or I fooled them,” joked Mueller. “But I think so far so good. I think the best part is they have a real thirst for knowledge and they want to do more and learn more. It’s been good for me to have guys that are in a different system as well. ‘Hey how have you guys done this before? Can we call this and that?’ I’ve come from a place that’s been relatively the same for a long time.”

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Riders’ receiver Shawn Bane Jr spoke about his prior experience with Mueller.

“The transition has been pretty solid. I’m familiar with the offence. I played with him in Calgary and he has trusted his guys,” Bane explained. “He’s definitely a players coach. He’s confident in what he’s calling and he’s confident in making those plays.”

Head Coach Corey Mace agreed.

“I think it’s been incredible. Starting with the quarterbacks you know talking to Trevor [Harris] and the time that he spent with Mueller. Understanding how the flow of the offence has been going for them,” Mace explained. “You know it seems to be really enjoyable and they’ve [been] extremely efficient having to be organized and moving the ball the first two days.”

Mace and Bane are familiar with the Canadian game but for American players who are at their first CFL training camp it is a different story.

Newly signed receiver, KeeSean Johnson, told CTV News he is adjusting to the new style of play and offence.

“It’s good. Now it’s just adjusting to the difference of speed, continue to play fast with the guys who have that comfortability and the offensive system of Canadian football,” Johnson shared. “I’ve never really had trouble learning new plays and there’s just some new things that come into the game like the waggle. There’s a lot more freedom and certain things that you can do.”

Johnson also praised Mueller’s offence from what he has seen and learned so far.

“I love it. It definitely has its similarities [to down south]. It’s going along good and I feel like all the guys are buying into what he’s telling us and I like where we are right now,” Johnson said.

An assessment shared by Bane.

“He’s a solid dude and a really likeable person. He’s gotten more confident. There’s no timid calling. He understands the flow of the games and he’s making the right call at the right times,” he added.

Bane also added Johnson has impressed him with how quick he has been able to pick up the new offence.

“He was making his times, making the right reads, seeing the defence. I have no complaints. He’s a great addition,” he said, smirking.

“He’s [Johnson] been doing well. He’s been put into a position where he’s getting a lot of reps and he’s taking advantage of them,” Mueller added.

Monday had stronger winds than day one of training camp but Mace says the weather helped the evaluation process and allowed Mueller to get comfortable calling in the elements.

“Definitely a lot of things go into it. Situationally it’s really good for us. We have to think about special teams and how that can dictate certain things throughout the game and even for Marc calling some plays, just to understand the elements. It’s all good practice,” Mace said.

The Riders’ offence will face its first big test one week from today in their first pre-season matchup against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.