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October 4, 2013

NC State's offense keeping defenses off-balanced



The beauty and perhaps simplicity of NC State's offensive attack is that defenses aren't sure who will have the ball and from what angle.

NC State's offense uses running backs and wide receivers on various jet sweeps or reverses, but also tries to mix in some power running plays in a north-south fashion. Wide receivers Bryan Underwood and Rashard Smith combined for eight carries for 83 yards in last Saturday's 48-14 win over Central Michigan. Freshman running back Matt Dayes mixed in a 42-yard run when he was lined up as a wing back.

The ability to confuse defenses is by design and has been effective throughout NCSU's 3-1 start going into Saturday's game at Wake Forest.

"We are trying our best to score points and certain plays worked last week," NC State offensive coordinator Matt Canada said. "Some other plays we should have executed better didn't. We just continue to strive to get better all the time. We want to give as many looks as we can to give our kids an advantage."

NC State rushed for 239 yards on 52 carries for an average of 4.6 yards per rush. Eleven different players were credited with a rushing attempt, though two were quarterbacks running out the clock and one came after a poor snap on a punt attempt.

"We aren't saying it's just one person doing one thing all the time," Canada said. "We change personnel groups, and we change a lot of things to be as multiple as we can be in the framework of our offense, and what we can handle. We have a lot of young players playing."

Wake Forest's front seven has two stout defenders in fifth year seniors Nikita Whitlock and Zach Thompson, who play nose guard and defensive end respectively.

"They are both really good players and play very, very hard and are disruptive," Canada said. "You have to know where they are all the time. They are guys who you can see why they are so respected in our league. They have done such a good job and they play extremely hard."

NC State redshirt junior quarterback Pete Thomas was able to pass for his first touchdown of the season. The Wolfpack have two passing touchdowns between Thomas and freshman Bryant Shirreffs.

"Pete has gotten better," Canada said. "Pete plays very hard and I'm proud of the way he plays. There are always plays you want back and the last couple of games, we've had a couple of those shots that you like to hit."

Boston College senior running back Andre Williams gashed the Wake Forest defense for 204 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries, during the Eagles 24-10 home win Sept. 6. NC State sophomore running back Shadrach Thornton could be in line for an increase in carries.

"Every team is different and game plans are difference from what they do, who they want to stop and approach to the game," Canada said. "There are a whole bunch of players around him [Williams] that can cause a defense to play differently.

"I hope we get our playmakers the ball. At times, we do that well. At times when the game is over, you wish you could do things differently. Going into the game, we are going to try to get the ball to the guys that have the best matchups."

NC State welcomed another weapon to the fold against the Chippewas. Sophomore wide receiver Travares Copeland made his Wolfpack debut after missing weeks with a hamstring injury. The West Virginia transfer caught one pass for 10 yards.

"There are a bunch of good receivers that are playing right now," Canada said. "The freshman are playing well and Bryan [Underwood] and Rashard [Smith] are playing well. There are a lot of good players at the skill positions right now. We are happy he is back and we'd like to get him out there if the opportunity comes. The more plays you make, the better chance you get the ball."

Freshman wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling missed the CMU game, and is slated at "questionable" this week. His return, whether this week or in the future, would help bolster the passing attack. He has caught 14 passes for 201 yards this season.

"He made some good plays and had a couple of critical mistakes too," Canada said. "As a freshman, he is very talented. He has keep it going mentally and stay healthy."


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