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September 18, 2013

Matt Canada could mix tempo vs. Tigers

One of the interesting subplots with No. 3-ranked Clemson playing at NC State on Thursday is both teams want to play the same style of offensive football.

NC State has stressed up-tempo offense, the running game and keep defenses off-balanced. The Wolfpack are still in their infancy in trying to create their offensive brand of football under first-year coach Dave Doeren and offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

Canada has often said that no-huddle could lead to a fast tempo, but he also can go no-huddle and work the clock down. Both styles could be used against Clemson, with the most valuable aspect that the Tigers won't be able to easily substitute on defense.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has run the same system for the last two years, and is off to an impressive start two games into his senior campaign. Boyd and offensive coordinator Chad Morris have created what NC State is trying to feature themselves.

Clemson defeated an impressive Georgia squad 38-35 in the season opener, and South Carolina State 52-13 on Sept. 7 before having a weekend off. NC State will have to play its style but still try to beat Clemson at its own game, which will be an interesting tightrope to walk Thursday.

"Our game plan changes each week and we focus on taking what they give us," Canada said. "We'll go fast if it presents something that will help us on offense. There is always an overall game plan and what is best for the whole team, whether fast or slow."

NC State redshirt junior quarterback Pete Thomas and several of his younger teammates have been able to benefit from the extra practices since the Wolfpack defeated Richmond 23-21 on Sept. 7. NCSU turned the ball over four times and was called for 10 penalties, which was a focus during the practices.

"We've gotten better at some things, but the Richmond game, we can't turn the ball over four times," Canada said. "All four of them were down inside there and that is 28 points, and that's a different night. We have to take care of the football, No. 1. We did have some mistake that have been corrected off of film."

Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley could be one Tigers' defensive player the Wolfpack pay special attention. The junior has two sacks this season, but eight sacks a year ago, including three and a caused fumble in last year's 62-48 win over NC State.

"They have a bunch of good players, but he is certainly a guy that jumps out," Canada said. "He has really improved last year to this year. He is a different player."

Canada did watch the film of last year's shootout, which featured former NCSU quarterback Mike Glennon passing for 493 yards and five touchdowns. Former wide receiver Tobais Palmer caught seven passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns, and ex-tight end Mario Carter had seven catches for 105 yards and a score.

"I watched that and we had a lot of time to get ready for this game, just like they did, and we watched all summer," Canada said. "They have a lot of players back [on defense] with nine returning starters. They are a very good football team and ranked where they are."

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