Doeren on quarterback decision: “Its really up to them”

Trio of signal-callers still competing for starting spot in the backfield exactly one month before season opener.

Christine T. Nguyen/file/The North State Journal
Jalan McClendon throws a pass in practice before the 2016 season. (Christine T. Nguyen/file/The North State Journal)

RALEIGH — Much like the spring and summer, NC State head coach Dave Doeren was reluctant to name a starter during the first fall practice on Monday morning. With a trio of options including Jalan McClendon, Jakobi Meyers and now Ryan Finley, Doeren still isn’t ready to show his cards just yet.”It’s going to be a good competition,” Doeren said of the quarterback battle. “So far they know what’s going on. We’re not blitzing yet on defense. … I thought they had good command of what [Eli Drinkwitz] was asking them to do.”McClendon and Meyers spent the entire spring attempting to set themselves apart from the other, but Doeren never declared a clear winner. Now, with exactly one month left until the season opener against William & Mary, the duo has new competition in the form of Boise State transfer Ryan Finley.All three quarterbacks shared snaps during the open session of practice on Monday morning. McClendon flashed his solid accuracy, Meyers followed with great mechanics and Finley surprised some defenders with his running ability out of the pocket.That rotation is a welcomed challenge for McClendon.”It’s fun, it’s fun,” McClendon said with a grin. “You’ve got someone pushing you every day and going at it every day back to back. It’s fun having that competition. Having somebody behind you who’s going to push you. Then me pushing them, too.” Jalen McClendon with a pass. A video posted by Cory Smith (@rcorysmith) on Aug 1, 2016 at 7:05am PDT
This is far from the first hotly-debated quarterback battle in Raleigh and isn’t Doeren’s first soiree with multiple signal-callers. In 2013 — Doeren’s first season at the helm — Brandon Mitchell and Pete Thomas jockeyed for the starting role with Jacoby Brissett waiting in the wings.Mitchell would ultimately win that starting role, but Thomas would take over after Mitchell suffered a foot injury. Neither quarterback looked especially sharp for an NC State team that finished 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the ACC.These are different times, however, with more polished quarterbacks hoping to lead the Wolfpack’s offense.”There’s not a comparison,” Doeren said. “Brandon Mitchell was a wide receiver at Arkansas and had to learn how to come in here and play. We’ve got two guys here that have all the skills you want.”Both Doeren and new offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz have recently laughed off the notion that a quarterback would be named before Monday. But with time dwindling down before the season opener, Doeren is still keeping the competition wide open.So when will it be decided? Doeren isn’t even sure at this point.”It’s really up to them,” Doeren said. “If one of them emerges and takes over, then it’s going to be easy. If that doesn’t happen, then it could take all the way until the game. … I’m going to give it time. I didn’t choose a quarterback in the spring for a reason.”