There appear to be two quarterbacks at NC State vying for playing time in 2016. Both made a solid case for themselves Saturday.
With six touchdowns and a field goal, the offense of the Red team—which was essentially the spring starters—ran rampant in its, 47-0, win over the White team at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Five quarterbacks received playing time but it was redshirt-sophomore Jalan McClendon and redshirt-freshman Jakobi Meyers that most were keen to see. The duo on the Red team did not disappoint.
McClendon went 13-for-18 passing for 120 yards. Meyers practically matched him with a 12-for-20 effort that netted 117 yards and added 40 yards rushing on 10 carries despite the opposing defense needing only to touch him for it to constitute a tackle.
Both signal-callers threw a touchdown pass on the afternoon.
“You saw how they threw, you got to see.” NC State head coach Dave Doeren said. “I think Jalan is a little more comfortable now in the pocket and Jakobi is a really dangerous runner. Everybody got to see that.
“We scored a lot of points and we ran a lot of plays to get the ball to a lot of people. Both quarterbacks played well at times and have some good film to watch in game environment.”
With the graduation of two-year starter Jacoby Brissett, the quarterback position was a question mark going into the 2016 Kay Yow Spring Game.
While many had simply anointed McClendon as the replacement, but Meyers will have something to say about that over the summer—which is a good thing for Doeren and NC State.
“He's a freak,” McClendon said of Meyers. “He does a great job and we both cheer each other on, even though it's a competition.”
The feeling is mutual.
“He had a great game,” Meyers said. “He came out hot. He set the tone for all of us. Everybody wanted to match him. He had a great day. I'm proud of him. We're all working and pushing each other.”
While there is much to glean from the duo’s performance Saturday there is still almost five months until the Wolfpack open the season versus William & Mary in late-August.
In the meantime, Doeren wants to see the pair take what they have learned and expand to the point where much of it becomes instinct.
“Now it's them taking the offense all summer and making it theirs so they are not thinking as much,” Doeren said. “For us, we have a long ways before we decide who gets all the playing time. It's a way to earn a little respect maybe going into the summer, but we're not deciding our two-deep based on today's work against a backup defense. They have a lot of work to do still.”
It is a process. The 2013 campaign was a bridge until Doeren could get Brissett onto the field. The past two seasons have been about building the depth that will put NC State on par with the top teams in the Atlantic Division of the ACC.
In 2016 it is about starting the journey towards being a genuine contender for a division or conference title. While there is work to do, the players feel they are the ones who will complete the program’s trek towards an elite status.
First come the work to build for the upcoming season. That began with a solid offensive effort Saturday.
“Everybody has butterflies going into a game, but as soon as that first pass came I was good,” McClendon said. “It’s a lot of work. We have to learn the offense, install new things. We have plenty of time to work on that. That's our goal this summer."
With a two-deep that extends to the quarterback position, Doeren and NC State will have options for the coming season. For the Wolfpack that is a good thing.