ESPN's Andrea Adelson wrote about the pattern of quarterbacks transferring into Dave Doeren's program at NC State, and while I find parts of that piece a bit hasty in their assumptions ("has the quarterback development system broken down under Doeren?"), it does raise some questions that are worth fleshing out.
Let me first back up a second. If you missed the news, NC State added former Boise State quarterback Ryan Finley last week. Finley, who played for new Wolfpack OC Eli Drinkwitz, is a graduate transfer who can play immediately. Does that raise some eyebrows when it comes to NC State's quarterback situation? Yes, yes it does.
But that also might be reading too much into a move involving two parties who are familiar with each other. It'll be a while before we get clarity on that one. No doubt Finley wants to play, and maybe he is better than Jalan McClendon or Jakobi Meyers, but this doesn't have the same feel of alarm that 2013 did.
Doeren inherited a bad roster with a laughably thin quarterback unit. I mean, Pete Thomas was clearly the best quarterback on the team, and when he realized that sports participant Manny Stocker was theoretically his only option at QB2, he may have endured several minor strokes.
Hence the desperate grab for Brandon Mitchell--also not much of a quarterback--and Jacoby Brissett, who at least could sustain a decent offense after 2013. That year State just needed to find a guy who knew which way was forward. (Remember to throw the ball forward, kids, unless the play called specifies otherwise. Fundamentals.)
The Mitchell gamble was worth it, but it didn't pay off, partially because Mitchell's season was derailed by injury, but mostly because he was not experienced or talented enough to step in and succeed. He had never been the primary starter at quarterback in college before, and he'd even spent some time at wide receiver. Didn't work out in Raleigh. So it goes.
That doesn't alter the fact that Mitchell's addition, along with the various other stabs at graduate transfers, was absolutely necessary for establishing a very basic level of functional depth at quarterback. This time around, it's not like that. This is the healthiest quarterback situation Doeren's had at NC State.
So Finley is the third transfer QB Doeren has brought in over the span of 3+ years at State. Is this too many transfer QBs, though, and is that a problem in the larger picture? Thing is, Doeren's tenure is still fairly young, at least from a development standpoint, so it's difficult to call into question the staff's efforts there when we haven't really had a chance to see the results yet.
McClendon and Meyers are still underclassmen, and that aside, who knows how much the staff might have helped Brissett get better? There's plenty of room for development with transfers, too.
Then again, former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada wasn't replaced just because his offensive style left Doeren wanting. And this is where pattern can become perception, because you can bet other coaches are gonna take every theoretical inch they can while out recruiting.
Adelson is absolutely right that State needs to show it can develop good quarterbacks, else that knock may become a problem in recruiting, whether or not it's a fair criticism of Doeren's staff. And NC State might prove it can develop its own quarterbacks as soon as this fall, making the whole deal moot. It doesn't take much to shift perception into your favor.
On the field, the questions are simpler. Jacoby Brissett helped NC State win a lot more games. His addition made tons of sense and paid dividends. Ryan Finley's trajectory might end up going similarly, and whatever moves help you on Saturdays don't have to matter much anywhere else. Certainly most fans aren't gonna care.
To borrow a line from the esteemed Reverend Tim Lovejoy: when it comes to the topic of transfer quarterbacks being a problem for Dave Doeren, the short answer is "yes" with an "if" and the long answer is "no" with a "but."