A new recipe in Raleigh

CLEMSON - Take a little bit of Northern Illinois from 2011. Mix it with a pinch of 2012 Wisconsin and you've got N.C. State 2013.

That's what Brent Venables has seen from the two games of tape he has on N.C. State offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who served in the same position under Dave Doeren at Northern Illinois before his one season as the play caller at Wisconsin.

"A lot of things are happening pre-snap, as far as movement's concerned," Venables said. "It's really going to challenge us again, mentally force us to really have great discipline in how we're aligning, what the adjustments are and things of that nature, to leverage the football and be able to stay on top of everything, have everybody accounted for and defend the run."

The Wolfpack want to run the football. Of their 163 plays from scrimmage, 97 have been runs.

Tony Creedy, the starting running back, has gained 103 yards on 25 carries. Matt Dayes leads the team with 31 carries for 127 yards and three touchdowns. Though Shadrach Thornton hasn't recorded a carry from scrimmage this season, he did rush for 114 yards and a touchdown against Clemson last season.

Venables described their ground game as a versatile one.

"Power, downhill, then, they have the ability to attack you on the perimeter as well, whether its toss sweeps or jet sweeps, things like that," he said.

It's a similar kind of approach through the air.

"Sometimes they [pass quickly] and other times they're maxing it up and play-action, double moving and trying to take the top off the defense," Venables said. "They'll do both."

Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell won the starting quarterback job in the offseason, but he went down in the opener against Louisiana Tech with a foot injury. Since taking over, Pete Thomas has completed 39 of 58 passes for 449 yards. The Colorado State transfer also has three interceptions and no touchdown passes.

A two-year starter at Colorado State, Thomas passed for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns while completing 63.5 percent of his throws before heading to Raleigh.

"He's got game experience. I'm sure he won't be overwhelmed. Pete has started a bunch of games, been incredibly successful as a college quarterback," Venables said. "He's been very effective through two games, having to go out there once the other guy got hurt in the Louisiana Tech game.

"I saw a quarterback that operates with really good precision and strong accuracy. They say he's not a runner that he's a thrower. I know this: he extended a number of drives last week that were critical in the second half, a lot of third-downs when the coverage was tight."

Second-team quarterback Bryant Shirreffs is the runner. He's third among N.C. State rushers with 70 yards. At times, he'll be used as a Wildcat-type of runner.

It's a much different deal than what Venables encountered in his first matchup with N.C. State.

"They're two completely different teams," Venables said. "Same uniforms, but a lot different schemes, they're quite a bit different."

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