The big question around NC State football continues to be at quarterback, where head coach Dave Doeren has yet to name a starter. However, it appears two signal-callers, redshirt sophomore Jalan McClendon and redshirt junior Ryan Finley, have emerged as the major contenders.
"You're just kind of waiting for one of them to outperform the other for an extended period. If it happens sooner than later, we will know. If it does not, we may have to play both until we find out on gameday who has got ice in their veins, I guess you would say. They are both working hard, and they are both very gifted."
McClendon backed up Jacoby Brissett in 2015, playing in eight games. Finley transferred to NC State from Boise State over the summer, as he opened 2015 as the starter under Eli Drinkwitz, who is now the Wolfpack's offensive coordinator. Finley's familiarity with the offensive system has aided him in the battle, however Doeren believes the system installed by Drinkwitz will benefit everyone on the offense.
"I will tell you, it is very player-friendly," Doeren said of the offense. "It is not hard to learn; there is a lot of word association, it is not very wordy. Single words, or two words can mean a lot, and to me, that is a really good thing, because you can communicate quickly, and it means a lot of things. As a coach, I have had to learn a new offense as well, and it has been very simple for me to digest.
"There is a lot of terminology that just makes sense, and so far players that is one thing I challenged [Eli]. I said, 'Go through everything we have done, look at the things that are similar, and try to keep names,' so they do not have to learn something just for the sake of learning, it if that is possible, and he did that. I think the guys have grasped it very well, quickly."
"If you are going to play fast, you have to be able to communicate extremely fast," he added. "You do not have to have eight words, and slow down the process. One word can mean that the formation and the play. That is what you got to do if you want to go fast, and that helps your line, it helps your offense, so they cannot substitute as much. It wears them down, and all those things play into it."
The wildcard continues to be redshirt freshman Jakobi Meyers, who has battled nagging injuries his first year on campus. Meyers, who missed the first couple of weeks of fall camp, is running third in the race, and it sounds like his dynamic athleticism could potentially lead to him receiving snaps somewhere other than quarterback on the Wolfpack's offense.
"It set him back a lot," Doeren said of Meyers missing the start of fall practice. "He missed almost the last half of Summer conditioning, then he missed the first two and a half weeks of Fall Camp it. He is back on the field, it is fun having him out there; I love the kid's ... just the spunk that he has, the passion he has. We just got to get him caught up now, he has missed a lot of time on the field. Very gifted guy, and there is a chance you could see him out there playing.
"He wants to play; if he cannot play at quarterback, there's a lot of things he could do for us."
With a potential decision looming, what does Doeren need to see from McClendon or Finley prior to him choosing the starter?
"They both have different strengths, and they need to play to them," he said. "As a coach, you want to know what you get, what is going to happen. You do not like surprises, and you want to know. Ryan has certain things he is really good at, he needs to do those things all the time. Jalan is the same way.
"Just getting a consistent performance out of those two guys is the biggest thing, and then you will see where it separates."