Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has never been married to doing things in a rigid manner.
Canada has built his offensive attacks around a variety of players and quarterbacks over the years at Indiana, Northern Illinois and Wisconsin. Now, he might prefer a certain way of doing things at NC State, but is also realistic that they'll have to recruit the kinds of players to make that happen.
The power running principles of Wisconsin and the out in space, hurry-up style of Oregon doesn't happen overnight. Canada has had drop-back quarterbacks at Indiana and Wisconsin, and also mobile run-pass dual threat players at the position with the Hoosiers and Northern Illinois.
"We aren't like Oregon's offense in certain things they do, but we are going to mold to our talent level and always play our best players," Canada said. "We are going to run the ball period. Whatever you want to call it, we are going to run the ball. Then we'll try to have some tempo and things when it fits us."
The meshing of his offensive system could lead to play-calling being different depending on if fifth-year senior quarterback Brandon Mitchell or redshirt junior Pete Thomas wins the job for the season opener against Louisiana Tech on Aug. 31 at Carter-Finley Stadium.
"Brandon is a smart football player and he makes plays, and is athletic with a very strong arm," Canada said. "I've been pleased with Brandon.
"I've been pleased with Pete too. He is an unbelievable leader. He has done everything you have asked him to do. They are competing very well."
Canada said Thomas has been night and day different compared to spring practices.
"Pete is playing with more confidence [since the spring] and understands what we want to do," Canada said. "The terminology is different and how we want to do it is different. I think he is playing well."
Canada coached at NIU two years ago with head coach Dave Doeren, before moving on to Doeren's prior place of employment at Wisconsin. Some things moved three hours north to Madison, Wis., and some concepts remained behind in DeKalb, Ill.
"When you look at what we did at Northern, we ran power and ran the ball downhill," Canada said. "We were still a high-paced offense at times.
"If you could run all your plays out of the same personnel group, then you would be really good."
Canada also had three different quarterbacks under center for the Badgers.
"I learned a lot and we obviously had some quarterback injuries," Canada said. "We had a lot of things at Wisconsin, and it was a great experience learning how to get through some things and grinding on things."
While the quarterback race is getting its fair share of the attention, the other position groups will need to do their jobs to give whoever the quarterback is the fighting chance to be successful.
"We have to find our five best linemen and then find a quarterback, and you have six [players], and then we need to find our five best football players," Canada said. "Are they all wideouts, all tailbacks or tight ends? Most likely, you are going to have a tailback and likely a tight end, but you don't have to have any of them."