Dave Doeren has seen enough in practice to know that he can’t make a decision about the starting quarterback.
Now the Wolfpack coach wants to see what happens when Jalan McClendon and Ryan Finley get into an actual game.
Both will play against William & Mary on Thursday night in the opener at Carter-Finley Stadium.
“I need to see what gameday does to these two guys,” Doeren said. “Some guys get bigger on gameday, some guys don’t. Gameday usually sorts it out.”
After almost a month of practice, the quarterback race between McClendon, the backup the past two years, and Finley, a graduate transfer from Boise State, is too close to call.
Doeren was pleased with how both looked in practice but noted both were short on game experience. McClendon, a redshirt sophomore, played in seven games last season and has 14 career pass attempts.
Finley started three games for Boise State before an ankle injury sidelined him for the season. He graduated and transferred after in spring. Finley is also a redshirt sophomore despite his graduate status.
Who will start against William & Mary will be determined after an evaluation of the practice tape, Doeren said.
McClendon and Finley each had 20 game-type drives in either practice or the scrimmages, according to Doeren. The most productive player from those drives will start against the Tribe.
“And all he’s going to get is the first drive,” Doeren said. “After that we’re going to rotate and we’re going to see where it goes from there.”
Their teammates are confident in either quarterback, junior tight end Cole Cook said.
“We just want to win and whoever they put in there, that’s who we’ll play with,” Cook said.
And all he’s going to get is the first drive. After that we’re going to rotate and we’re going to see where it goes from there.
Doeren would like to give each quarterback the chance to work the entire series, rather than rotate by play, but he didn’t give any specific plan for how the rotation will work.
“We’ll see how many reps and how it’s going,” Doeren said. “If they’re both going up and down the field, then it makes it a little more difficult.”
Redshirt freshman Jakobi Meyers might also get a turn at quarterback. Meyers was slowed at the start of training camp by an ankle injury.
He has recovered to the point that he’s working in some situations at receiver. Doeren said Meyers would get on the field.
“All three of the guys we’re excited about,” Doeren said.
The more-the-merrier attitude will apply to the kickers, too, Doeren said. Both sophomore Kyle Bambard and graduate transfer Connor Haskins will get to kick against the Tribe.
Bambard struggled as a freshman, going 7 of 14 on field goal attempts, but was strong during practice, Doeren said. Both Bambard and Haskins made more than 80 percent of their kicks in scrimmage and live practice situations, Doeren said.
“We’ll get them both in the game and see how they handle gameday,” Doeren said.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio