Design by Katie Bush
Its fall. Its Saturday. Its time for college football! EA Sports delivers its yearly edition of NCAA Football 2004 with new features, teams, game modes, and plays. This game guide covers all editions with a special chapter on the PlayStation 2s exclusive online multiplayer mode.
This GameSpot Game Guide to NCAA Football 2004 includes:
- Team Stats: Dynasty stats and rankings for all 117 teams, plus additional stats for the division I-AA squads.
- The Top 25: A focus on the Top 25 with stats for the key offensive skill positions, last years history, and a team analysis.
- Building a Dynasty: Look here for tips on building your dynasty, surviving a season, and recruiting next years stars.
- Offensive Gameplan: This section focuses on offensive strategy with tips on improving your running game, passing attack, and option plays.
- Defensive Gameplan: This section focuses on defensive formations, position movements, play-calling, and controlling defenders.
- Online Strategies: Tips specifically for the PlayStation 2s online play mode.
- Secrets: Want to celebrate a hard-earned touchdown? Look here!
Table of ContentsTeam Stats
The Top 25
Building a Dynasty
Chapter 1 - Team Stats
The following chart reveals the overall, offense, defense, special teams, and prestige ratings for all 117 college football teams. These ratings were gathered from a fresh dynasty.
|RANK||TEAM||CONFERENCE||OVERALL||OFFENSE||DEFENSE||SPECIAL TEAMS||TEAM PRESTIGE|
|#1||Ohio State Buckeyes||Big 10||A||A-||A-||A+||6 stars|
|#2||Oklahoma Sooners||Big 12||A||B+||A+||B+||6 stars|
|#3||Miami Hurricanes||Big East||A||A||A||B||6 stars|
|#4||Texas Longhorns||Big 12||A-||A-||B+||A||6 stars|
|#5||Kansas State Wildcats||Big 12||B+||A-||B+||B+||4 stars|
|#6||Auburn Tigers||SEC||B||B+||B+||C+||4 stars|
|#7||Virginia Tech Hokies||Big East||A-||B+||B+||A-||5 stars|
|#8||Georgia Bulldogs||SEC||B+||B+||B||B+||5 stars|
|#9||USC Trojans||Pac-10||B+||B+||B+||B+||5 stars|
|#10||Michigan Wolverines||Big 10||B||B+||B||C+||6 stars|
|#11||North Carolina State Wolfpack||ACC||B||B+||B||B-||4 stars|
|#12||Pittsburgh Panthers||Big East||B+||B+||B||A-||4 stars|
|#13||Florida State Seminoles||ACC||B+||B+||B+||B+||6 stars|
|#14||Washington Huskies||Pac-10||B||B+||B-||B-||5 stars|
|#15||Maryland Terrapins||ACC||B+||B+||B+||B+||4 stars|
|#16||LSU Tigers||SEC||B||B+||B||B||5 stars|
|#17||Tennessee Volunteers||SEC||B+||B+||B+||B||6 stars|
|#18||Virginia Cavaliers||ACC||B||B+||B-||B-||4 stars|
|#19||Florida Gators||SEC||B+||B+||B||B+||5 stars|
|#20||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||IA Independents||B+||B+||B+||A||6 stars|
|#21||Arizona State Sun Devils||Pac-10||B||B||B-||C+||4 stars|
|#22||Alabama Crimson Tide||SEC||B||B||B+||B-||4 stars|
|#23||Purdue Boilermakers||Big 10||B||B-||B||C+||4 stars|
|#24||Texas A&M Aggies||Big 12||B||B||B-||B+||5 stars|
|#25||Wisconsin Badgers||Big 10||B||B+||B-||B-||4 stars|
|#26||Penn State Nittany Lions||Big 10||B||B||B-||B||5 stars|
|#27||Arkansas Razorbacks||SEC||B||B||B+||B-||3 stars|
|#28||Colorado Buffaloes||Big 12||B-||B-||B-||B-||4 stars|
|#29||Oregon State Beavers||Pac-10||B+||B+||B||B+||4 stars|
|#30||Oklahoma State Cowboys||Big 12||B||B||C+||B+||3 stars|
|#31||Nebraska Cornhuskers||Big 12||B||B||B||B||5 stars|
|#32||Missouri Tigers||Big 12||B-||B||C+||C+||3 stars|
|#33||Iowa Hawkeyes||Big 10||B+||B||B+||A||4 stars|
|#34||Oregon Ducks||Pac-10||B||B||B-||B-||5 stars|
|#35||Colorado State Rams||Mountain West||B||B||B||A-||3 stars|
|#36||Ole Miss Rebels||SEC||B||B+||B-||B+||4 stars|
|#37||Minnesota Golden Gophers||Big 10||B-||B+||C+||C||3 stars|
|#38||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||ACC||B-||B-||B-||C+||4 stars|
|#39||West Virginia Mountaineers||Big East||B||B||B-||B||3 stars|
|#40||Southern Miss Golden Eagles||C-USA||B-||C+||B||C+||3 stars|
|#41||Boston College Eagles||Big East||B||B||B-||B-||3 stars|
|#42||Clemson Tigers||ACC||B||B-||B-||B+||4 stars|
|#43||UCLA Bruins||Pac-10||B||B||B+||B||4 stars|
|#44||Texas Tech Red Raiders||Big 12||C+||B-||C||C+||3 stars|
|#45||Fresno State Bulldogs||WAC||B||B||B-||B+||3 stars|
|#46||Washington State Cougars||Pac-10||B+||B||B||A||4 stars|
|#47||South Carolina Gamecocks||SEC||B-||B-||B-||B||4 stars|
|#48||Syracuse Orangemen||Big East||B-||B-||C+||C+||4 stars|
|#49||Hawaii Warriors||WAC||B-||B-||B-||B||3 stars|
|#50||Illinois Fighting Illini||Big 10||B-||B-||C+||B||4 stars|
|#51||Miami (OH) Redhawks||MAC||C+||B-||C||B-||2 stars|
|#52||TCU Horned Frogs||C-USA||B-||B-||C+||B||3 stars|
|#53||Marshall Thundering Herd||MAC||B-||B+||C+||C+||3 stars|
|#54||Iowa State Cyclones||Big 12||B-||B-||B-||B+||3 stars|
|#55||BYU Cougars||Mountain West||C+||C||C+||B||3 stars|
|#56||New Mexico Lobos||Mountain West||B-||B-||C+||C||2 stars|
|#57||Boise State Broncos||WAC||B-||B-||B-||B-||2 stars|
|#58||Tulane Green Wave||C-USA||C||C+||C-||D+||2 stars|
|#59||North Texas Eagles||Sun Belt||C+||C||B-||B-||1 star|
|#60||Arizona Wildcats||Pac-10||C+||C+||C+||B-||3 stars|
|#61||Air Force Falcons||Mountain West||B-||B-||B-||B||2 stars|
|#62||Mississippi State Bulldogs||SEC||B-||B-||B-||A||3 stars|
|#63||Michigan State Spartans||Big 10||C+||C+||C||C+||4 stars|
|#64||Kentucky Wildcats||SEC||C+||B-||C||B-||3 stars|
|#65||Northern Illinois Huskies||MAC||B-||B-||C+||B+||2 stars|
|#66||North Carolina Tar Heels||ACC||C+||C+||C+||B-||3 stars|
|#67||Utah Utes||Mountain West||C+||C+||B-||C||3 stars|
|#68||Wake Forest Demon Deacons||ACC||C+||B-||C+||C+||2 stars|
|#69||USF Bulls||C-USA||C+||C+||C+||C+||2 stars|
|#70||Cincinnati Bearcats||C-USA||B-||B-||B-||C+||2 stars|
|#71||Cal Golden Bears||Pac-10||C+||B-||C+||C||3 stars|
|#72||Louisville Cardinals||C-USA||B-||B-||B-||B-||3 stars|
|#73||UCF Golden Knights||MAC||B-||B-||B-||C+||2 stars|
|#74||Bowling Green Falcons||MAC||C+||C+||C+||C||2 stars|
|#75||Stanford Cardinal||Pac-10||B-||B-||B-||B-||4 stars|
|#76||Northwestern Wildcats||Big 10||B-||B-||C+||C+||3 stars|
|#77||Duke Blue Devils||ACC||C||C-||C+||C||2 stars|
|#78||Memphis Tigers||C-USA||C||C||C||C||2 stars|
|#79||Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||WAC||C+||B-||C||B+||2 stars|
|#80||UConn Huskies||1A Independents||C+||C+||C+||C||1 star|
|#81||Toledo Rockets||MAC||C+||B-||B-||C||2 stars|
|#82||ECU Pirates||C-USA||C+||B-||C+||C+||2 stars|
|#83||Vanderbilt Commodores||SEC||C||C-||C||C+||2 stars|
|#84||Mew Mexico State Aggies||Sun Belt||C||C+||C||C+||1 star|
|#85||UNLV Rebels||Mountain West||B-||B-||B-||B-||2 stars|
|#86||Rice Owls||WAV||D+||D+||D+||C||1 star|
|#87||Western Michigan Broncos||MAC||C||C||C+||C+||2 stars|
|#88||Indiana Hoosiers||Big 10||B-||B-||C+||B-||2 stars|
|#89||San Diego State Aztecs||Mountain West||B-||C+||B-||C+||2 stars|
|#90||San Jose State Spartans||WAC||C-||C-||C-||C-||1 star|
|#91||Temple Owls||Big East||C||C||C||C+||2 stars|
|#92||Baylor Bears||Big 12||C||C||C||C-||2 stars|
|#93||Kansas Jayhawks||Big 12||C||C||C+||B-||2 stars|
|#94||Nevada Wolf Pack||WAV||C+||B-||C+||C+||2 stars|
|#95||Troy State Trojans||1A Independents||C||C||C||C+||1 star|
|#96||Rutgers Scarlet Knights||Big East||C-||C-||C||C+||2 stars|
|#97||UAB Blazers||C-USA||C+||C+||C+||C+||2 stars|
|#98||Ohio Bobcats||MAC||C||C-||C||C||1 star|
|#99||Mid Tenn State Blue Raiders||Sun Belt||C+||C||C+||B||1 star|
|#100||Ball State Cardinals||MAC||C||C-||C+||B||2 stars|
|#101||Arkansas State Indians||Sun Belt||C||C||C+||C+||1 star|
|#102||Wyoming Cowboys||Mountain West||C||C||C-||B-||2 stars|
|#103||Akron Zips||MAC||C+||B-||C+||C||2 stars|
|#104||Utah State Aggies||Sun Belt||C||C||C+||C-||1 star|
|#105||Houston Cougars||C-USA||C||C+||C||C+||2 stars|
|#106||UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns||Sun Belt||C||C||C||C||1 star|
|#107||UL Monroe Indians||Sun Belt||C||C||C+||C-||1 star|
|#108||Navy Midshipmen||1A Independents||C-||C-||C-||C||1 star|
|#109||Idaho Vandals||Sun Belt||C||C||C-||B-||1 star|
|#110||Central Michigan Chippewas||MAC||C||C||C-||C+||1 star|
|#111||SMU Mustangs||WAC||C-||C-||C||C||2 stars|
|#112||Kent State Golden Flashes||MAC||C||C||C||C||1 star|
|#113||UTEP Miners||WAC||C-||D+||C||C||1 star|
|#114||Eastern Michigan Eagles||MAC||C||C||C-||B-||1 star|
|#115||Tulsa Golden Hurricane||WAV||C||C||C||C||1 star|
|#116||Army Black Knights||C-USA||C-||C-||C-||C||1 star|
|#117||Buffalo Bulls||MAC||C||C-||C+||C+||1 star|
Team Stats - cont.
The following table reveals even more team stats! These are the team stats for the division I-AA teams, which can be added to your Dynasty mode (they must replace one of the 117 teams listed in the previous table). If youre up for a challenge, these are definitely the teams to pick! All of these teams have low ratings and just 1 star prestige (which means recruiting will be very tough).
|TEAM||CONFERENCE||OVERALL||OFFENSE||DEFENSE||SPECIAL TEAMS||TEAM PRESTIGE|
|Alabama A&M Bulldogs||SWAC||D+||D+||D+||C||1 star|
|Alabama State Hornets||SWAC||D+||D||D+||C||1 star|
|Alcorn State Braves||SWAC||D+||D+||D+||D+||1 star|
|Appalachian State Mountaineers||Southern||C-||C-||C-||C+||1 star|
|Ark Pine-Bluff Golden Lions||SWAC||D+||D+||D+||C+||1 star|
|Bethune-Cookman Wildcats||MEAC||D||D+||D||D||1 star|
|Brown Bears||Ivy League||D||D-||D+||C-||1 star|
|Chattanooga Mocs||Southern||D+||C-||D+||B-||1 star|
|Columbia Lions||Ivy League||D||D||D+||C||1 star|
|Cornell Big Red||Ivy League||D||D||D+||D||1 star|
|Dartmouth Big Green||Ivy League||D||D||D+||C||1 star|
|Delaware Blue Hens||Atlantic 10||C-||C||C-||C-||1 star|
|Delaware State Hornets||MEAC||D||D+||D+||D||1 star|
|E Washington Eagles||Big Sky||C-||C-||C-||C||1 star|
|East Tenn State Buccaneers||Southern||C-||D+||C||C+||1 star|
|Elon Phoenix||Southern||D+||D||C||C||1 star|
|Florida A&M Rattlers||MEAC||D+||C-||D||C||1 star|
|Furman Paladins||Southern||C-||C-||C-||B-||1 star|
|Georgia Southern Eagles||Southern||C||C||C||C||1 star|
|Grambling State Tigers||SWAC||D+||D||D+||C-||1 star|
|Hampton Pirates||MEAC||D||D+||D+||D+||1 star|
|Harvard Crimson||Ivy League||D+||D+||C-||C||1 star|
|Hofstra Pride||Atlantic 10||D+||D+||D+||C-||1 star|
|Howard Bison||MEAC||D+||D-||C-||C-||1 star|
|Idaho State Bengals||Big Sky||C-||C-||C-||C||1 star|
|Illinois State Redbirds||Gateway||D+||C-||D+||C||1 star|
|Indiana State Sycamores||Gateway||D+||D+||D+||C-||1 star|
|Jackson State Tigers||SWAC||D||D+||D+||D||1 star|
|James Madison Dukes||Atlantic 10||C-||C-||C-||C||1 star|
|Maine Black Bears||Atlantic 10||C-||C-||C-||C-||1 star|
|Miss Valley State Delta Devils||SWAC||D||D+||D+||D-||1 star|
|Montana Grizzlies||Big Sky||C||C+||C||C+||1 star|
|Montana State Bobcats||Big Sky||D+||D+||C-||C-||1 star|
|Morgan State Bears||MEAC||D||D+||D+||D||1 star|
|N Carolina A&T Aggies||MEAC||D||D||D||C-||1 star|
|New Hampshire Wildcats||Atlantic 10||D+||D+||D+||C||1 star|
|Norfolk State Spartans||MEAC||D-||D-||D+||C-||1 star|
|Northeastern Huskies||Atlantic 10||C-||D+||C-||C||1 star|
|Northern Arizona Lumberjacks||Big Sky||D+||D+||D+||C||1 star|
|Northern Iowa Panthers||Gateway||C||C-||C||C+||1 star|
|Penn Quakers||Ivy League||D+||D+||D+||C||1 star|
|Portland State Vikings||Big Sky||C-||C||C||D+||1 star|
|Prairie View A&M Panthers||SWAC||D||D-||D+||C-||1 star|
|Princeton Tigers||Ivy League||D+||D+||D+||C-||1 star|
|Rhode Island Rams||Atlantic 10||C-||C-||D+||B-||1 star|
|Richmond Spiders||Atlantic 10||C-||C||C-||C-||1 star|
|S Carolina State Bulldogs||MEAC||D||D||D+||D+||1 star|
|Sacramento State Hornets||Big Sky||C-||C-||C||C-||1 star|
|Southern Jaguars||SWAC||D||D+||D+||D||1 star|
|Southern Illinois Salukis||Gateway||D+||D+||C-||C||1 star|
|SW Missouri St. Bears||Gateway||D+||C-||D+||D+||1 star|
|Texas Southern Tigers||SWAC||D||D||D+||C-||1 star|
|The Citadel Bulldogs||Southern||C-||C-||D+||C+||1 star|
|UMass Minutemen||Atlantic 10||D+||C-||D+||C-||1 star|
|Villanova Wildcats||Atlantic 10||D+||D+||D+||D||1 star|
|Weber State Wildcats||Big Sky||D+||D+||D+||C-||1 star|
|Western Carolina Catamounts||Southern||C||C||C||C||1 star|
|Western Illinois Leathernecks||Gateway||D+||D+||C-||C-||1 star|
|Western Kentucky Hilltoppers||Gateway||C-||C-||C-||C+||1 star|
|William and Mary Tribe||Atlantic 10||C||C||C||B-||1 star|
|Wofford Terriers||Southern||C-||C-||C-||C-||1 star|
|Yale Bulldogs||Ivy League||C-||C-||C-||C||1 star|
|Youngstown State Penguins||Gateway||C||C+||C-||C+||1 star|
Chapter 2 - The Top 25
This section provides team breakdowns of the top 25 college football teams, as rated by NCAA Football 2004. Each breakdown includes statistics for the core offensive positions (starting QB, HB, WRs, and TE), 2002 on the field statistics, and analysis.
Each position player is rated in several different categories. The following list reveals the statistic and description. Note that some of the statistics from the game were removed in these tables, namely the tackle and kicking statistics as they dont apply to these positions.
- Overall (OVR) - The overall rating for the player.
- Speed (SPD) - How fast the player can run.
- Strength (STR) - The players strength, which affects his ability to break tackles.
- Awareness (AWR) - A players ability to react and adjust.
- Agility (AGI) - The players agility, enhancing his ability to switch directions.
- Acceleration (ACC) - How fast a player reaches full speed. Great for sprinting through open holes in your line.
- Catch (CTH) - How well the player can catch. A higher rating means less drops.
- Carry (CAR) - How well the player holds onto the football. A higher rating means the less chance of a fumble.
- Jump (JMP): The players ability to jump, such as for grabbing high passes.
- Break Tackles (BTK): The players ability to break tackles.
- Throw Power (THP): How far a player can throw the ball.
- Throw Accuracy (THA): How accurate a player throws.
- Pass Block (PBK): How well a player pass blocks.
- Run Block (RBK): How well a player run blocks.
- Stamina (STA): The players stamina level. The higher the rating, the more the player can be in the game before he becomes fatigued.
- Injury (INJ): The likelihood of an injury. The higher the rating, the less likely a player will get injured.
Also, in the statistics for each team, note that all teams possess goal line and Hail Mary offensive formations in their playbooks.
#1 - Ohio State Buckeyes
2002 record: 14-0, National Champions
Conference: Big Ten, T-1st
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 173.2 yards per game (31st in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 191.3 yards per game (92nd in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Big, Ace-Normal, Ace-Slot, I Form-Slot, I Form-Twins, Pro Form-Normal, Shotgun-5 Wide, Strong-Normal, Weak-Twins
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 243.1 yards allowed per game (95th in nation) 2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 77.7 yards allowed per game (3rd in nation)
The Buckeyes are coming off a 2002 National Championship season with an upset of the Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl and theyre coming back strong--all eleven starters on offense return. This team is stocked with talent and ready for another run at the title. There are many seniors, which could put dynasty players in a pinch filling those holes after the upcoming season. The Buckeyes are led on offense by solid, but not extraordinary, quarterback. But its an explosive wide receiver and a standout sophomore and Heisman candidate at halfback that are the primary weapons. HB #13 and WR #12 are your stars here. Get them the ball early and often. On defense, be wary of the long ball. The secondary was an Achilles heel last year and things arent much better with low rated safeties.
#2 - Oklahoma Sooners
2002 Record: 12-2
Conference: Big 12 (1st in South)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 202.0 yards per game (68th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 190.6 yards per game (32nd in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Spread, Ace-Trips, I Form-Tight, I Form-Y-Trips, Shotgun-2B Slot, Shotgun-5 Wide, Shotgun-Bunch, Shotgun-Spread, Shotgun-Y-Trips
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 185.3 yards allowed per game (25th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 107.9 yards allowed per game (14th in nation)
The Sooners are led by a defensive-minded coach and it certainly shows on this years squad. While Ohio State and Miami may have their firepower on offense, the Sooners are stacked on defense (seven out of eleven starters rated over 90 with most of the others around 89). Maintain a solid ball control offense with an equal dose of runs and passes; the Sooners possess a balanced mix of key offensive players but lack a single standout threat. This mix is clearly revealed in the Sooners playbook: a helping of Ace and I Form formations for controlling the line of scrimmage with the running game then a string of Shotgun formations (which shows the Sooners offensive roots in the Gators scheme) for the aerial show.
#3 - Miami Hurricanes
2002 Record: 12-1
Conference: Big East (1st)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 284.2 yards per game (16th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 181.6 yards per game (40th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Bunch, Ace-Slot, Ace-Trips, Ace-Y-Trips, I Form-Normal, I Form-Tight, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Y-Trips, Strong-Normal
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 119.7 yards per game (1st in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 165.3 yards per game (72nd in nation)
The Miami Hurricane vs. Ohio State Buckeye national championship game is rightfully one of NCAA Football 2004s classic games. It was one of the most exciting--and controversial (particularly to Miami fans)--games of all-time. Though Miami lost the title and several significant starters, the Hurricanes are still back in the hunt and will contend again for the top college prize. Miami is about speed. Its one of the fastest teams (sort their roster by speed to see a lot of 90s) on both offense and defense. Though their QB is untested (its his first year as starter), hes still solidly rated. Miami is also one of the few teams with a major standout at tight end. Dont neglect him in your offensive gameplan! Steadily feed your opponents defense with Miamis top-rated RB then hit the TE with play action passes. Look for other ways of getting him the ball. Choose passes where hes an option and look for him in one-on-one coverage.
#4 - Texas Longhorns
2002 Record: 11-2
Conference: Big 12 (2nd in South)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 250.1 yards per game (34th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 135.5 yards per game (74th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Empty, Ace-Slot, Ace-Spread, Ace-Y-Trips, I Form-Normal, I Form-Slot, No Back, Strong-Normal, Strong-Twins
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 165.2 yards allowed per game (8th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 142.5 yards allowed per game (47th in nation)
The Longhorns are looking to improve on their 2002 success with a run at the national title. A quick glance at their offensive starters reveals a lot of high numbers. Lets start with arguably the best receiver in the country; Texas WR #4 is an extremely fast deep threat with stellar abilities. Look for opportunities to match him up one-on-one and test your opponents defense on the deep ball. The Longhorns running game is no slouch either with a solid running back to keep your opponents defenses honest and away from double-teaming your star receiver. A solid, but not outstanding, first-time starter quarterback and an above average tight-end round out the primary offensive stars.
#5 - Kansas State Wildcats
2002 Record: 11-2
Conference: Big 12 (2nd in North)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 158.9 yards per game (100th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 264.1 yards per game (5th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Slot, Ace-Trips, Ace-Y-Trips, I Form-Tight, I Form-Y-Trips, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Split, Shotgun-Trips, Shotgun-Y-Trips
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 179.5 yards allowed per game (20th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 69.5 yards allowed per game (2nd in nation)
The Kansas State Wildcats return two key starters on offense: an explosive quarterback and an extremely quick running back. This tandem can run a potent option running game. HB #43 has enough speed and acceleration to turn the corner on most defenses and scamper down the sideline for big gain after big gain. And the QB #3 also possesses quickness should you decide to hit the hole and turn him up field. Satisfactory, but not game breaking, receivers and an above average tight-end round out the core of the offense. The Wildcats have a very strong defense to complement their offense. Use a mix of run and option run to maintain a ball control offense and keep the ball away from your opponent.
#6 - Auburn Tigers
2002 Record: 9-4
Conference: SEC (T-2nd in West)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 183.8 yards per game (81st in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 203.7 yards per game (25th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Y-Trips, Ace-Normal, I Form-Normal, I Form-Y-Trips, I Form-Tight, Shotgun-Ace Twins, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-5 Wide, Shotgun-Trips
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 186.5 yards allowed per game (26th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 141.7 yards allowed per game (46th in nation)
Fans of the Auburn Tigers have high expectations for their team this season. After a respectable finish last year, the Tigers are seeking an SEC title and a run at the national championship. The Tigers have a lot of depth with all four halfbacks rated over 80 overall and in the speed department. Thus you dont lose much talent should you incur an injury or need to sub in a halfback because of fatigue. A balanced group of receivers provide plenty of downfield opportunities in Auburns four shotgun passing formations. A highly rated set of linebackers will help stop the run and keep pressure off Auburns weaker secondary.
#7 - Virginia Tech Hokies
2002 Record: 10-4
Conference: Big East (T-4th)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 159.2 yards per game (99th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 212.4 yards per game (19th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Big, Ace-Normal, Ace-Trips, I Form-Normal, I Form-Tight, I Form-Twins, I Form-Y-Trips, Shotgun-Split, Shotgun-Y-Trips
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 213.6 yards allowed per game (56th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 121.4 yards allowed per game (29th in nation)
The Hokies are primarily a running team, mixing in the option and quarterback scrambles with standard handoffs to their highly rated HB #25. And a solid running game should open the play-action passes to the speedy WR #19 and an above average tight-end. For a change of pace, sub in the Hokes backup freshman quarterback (QB #5); he happens to be the younger brother of an NFL star QB (hint: he's on the cover of another EA football game). QB #5 is faster than the Hokies' default starter and could provide a much needed spark, should you fall behind.
#8 - Georgia Bulldogs
2002 Record: 13-1
Conference: SEC (1st)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 245.4 yards per game (39th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 139.6 yards per game (67th in nation)
Offensive Formations: I Form-Normal, I Form-Slot, I Form-Tight, Power I, Shotgun-2B Slot, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Split, Shotgun-Trips, Weak-Slot
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 189.5 yards allowed per game (31st in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 114.0 yards allowed per game (19th in nation)
The Georgia Bulldogs are coming off an excellent season capped by an SEC championship title, wrestled away from perennial SEC powerhouses Tennessee and Florida. The Bulldogs have two solid quarterbacks, so you lose very little should your starter get injured. Plus, switching in the backup might be a nice chance of pace to keep your opponent off balance. The default starter is more of a pocket passer while the backup possesses a higher speed rating, ideal for quarterback draw plays. WR #82 and TE #89 are serious passing threats and a nicely rated set of five HBs (all rated over 80) provide depth and the ability to sub in without losing much in the way of talent.
#9 - USC Trojans
2002 Record: 11-2
Conference: Pac-10 (T-1st)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 306.8 yards per game (8th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 142.5 yards per game (65th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Bunch, Ace-Empty, Ace-Slot, Ace-Y-Trips, I Form-Trips, Pro Form-Normal, Shotgun-Bunch, Strong-Slot, Weak-Normal
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 201.8 yards allowed per game (42nd in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 83.2 yards allowed per game (6th in nation)
Study the statistics and it doesnt take long to find the one question mark on the Trojans offense: the quarterback. But its not a surprise: the Trojans lost their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback to the National Football League. Dont be hesitant to experiment with the Trojans other available quarterbacks; for instance, the default second-string quarterback has the same overall rating (78) but slightly higher throwing power and throwing accuracy. Dont put all the pressure on your offenses single question mark: get the ball to your stars, especially WR #1.
#10 - Michigan Wolverines
2002 Record: 10-3
Conference: Big 10 (3rd)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 232.8 yards per game (44th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 148.4 yards per game (59th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Bunch, Ace-Slot, Ace-Trips, I Form-Tight, I Form-Normal, Pro Form-Normal, Shotgun-Spread, Shotgun-Twins, Weak-Slot
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 224.5 yards allowed per game (69th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 123.2 yards allowed per game (31st in nation)
The Wolverines are led by a senior quarterback coming off a good season; hes a quality pocket passer but dont expect much mobility with speed and acceleration ratings in the 50s. The starting HB #23 and WR #1 are your primary offensive stars; the ratings drop off fairly quickly after these two standouts. A topnotch cornerback leads the defense. He can be left in single coverage on nearly all opposing starting wide receivers, which allows the weaker strong safety to assist elsewhere or cheat up to the line to help stop an opponents running game.
#11 - North Carolina State Wolfpack
2002 Record: 11-3
Conference: ACC (4th)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 247.7 yards per game (35th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 144.1 yards per game (62nd in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Normal, Ace-Y-Twins, I Form-Tight, Shotgun-2B Slot, Shotgun-5 Wide, Shotgun-Ace Twins, Shotgun-Trips, Shotgun-Y-Trips, Strong-Twins
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 175.5 yards allowed per game (15th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 125.3 yards allowed per game (32nd in nation)
With a highly rated, Heisman-candidate starting quarterback, the Wolfpack are ready to contend for the ACC title and, perhaps, even make a run for the big prize. North Carolina State can put the pressure on opponents defenses with a good mix of the run and pass--they certainly arent afraid to air it out with a playbook consisting of five shotgun formations. A decent all-around secondary should give the Wolfpack much needed defensive support, particularly when they head to Florida State to battle their new rival, perhaps with the conference title on the line.
#12 - Pittsburgh Panthers
2002 Record: 9-4
Conference: Big East (3rd)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 215.1 yards per game (59th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 143.1 yards per game (64th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Normal, Ace-Slot, Ace-Spread, Ace-Y-Trips, I Form-Normal, I Form-Twins, Pro Form-Normal, Shotgun-Bunch, Shotgun-Spread
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 178.5 yards allowed per game (18th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 117.5 yards allowed per game (24th in nation)
The Pittsburgh Panthers have risen from near obscurity to be a significant player in the Big East conference, recently dominated by Miami and Virginia Tech. Your two powerhouses on offense are an extremely quick WR #1 and a highly-rated TE #83, great for combining an aggressive deep ball strike with short dump offs for more ball control. A quality, but not outstanding, halfback should be enough to keep the opposing defense from targeting your wide out and tight-end on each and every play. Keep games close with Pitts well-rounded defense, which could be tough against explosive conference opponents, the Hurricanes and Hokies.
#13 - Florida State Seminoles
2002 Record: 9-5
Conference: ACC (1st)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 211.1 yards per game (26th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 187.0 yards per game (35th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Normal, Ace-Twins, I Form-Normal, I Form-Slot, I Form-Twins, Shotgun-2B Slot, Shotgun-5 Wide, Shotgun-Spread, Shotgun-Trips
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 235.2 yards allowed per game (85th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 130.8 yards allowed per game (36th in nation)
The Seminoles are coming off a tough year by posting their worst overall record in a long time--yet the team still won its conference and played in a major bowl game. But with the emergence of North Carolina State, its doubtful the Seminoles will be able to repeat last years performance and still maintain ACC dominance. Florida States junior quarterback has a decent rating, despite a lot of inconsistent play during the previous season, but the true star is a bruising starting halfback (92 rating in breaking tackles!). He should keep opposing defenses up to the line, which will give the Seminoles two wideout burners (94 and 91 speed) plenty of holes to exploit. Defensive concerns are the two starting safeties, which could get torched in man-on-man coverage with top notch receivers.
#14 - Washington Huskies
2002 Record: 7-6
Conference: Pac-10 (7th)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 346.2 yards per game (4th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 74.5 yards per game (113th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Empty, Ace-Normal, Ace-Slot, Ace-Twins, Ace-Y-Trips, I Form-Normal, No Back, Strong-Twins, Weak-Twins
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 259.5 yards allowed per game (105th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 97.7 yards allowed per game (11th in nation)
A survey of 2002 statistics reveals the Huskies problems: an anemic running game and a porous passing defense. Player statistics dont seem to improve these weaknesses too much. The Huskies will still excel in the passing attack, led by a highly rated starting quarterback and a game-breaking WR #1, with an overall 97 rating, 97 speed, and 97 acceleration (and many more 90s to go along with those!). The Huskies cornerbacks are decent but poorly rated safeties will put a lot of pressure on controlling the opposing teams aerial assault.
#15 - Maryland Terrapins
2002 Record: 11-3
Conference: ACC (T-2nd)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 190.6 yards per game (75th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 198.8 yards per game (28th in nation)
Offensive Formations: I Form-Normal, I Form-Slot, I Form-Twins, Shotgun-2B Slot, Shotgun-Bunch, Shotgun-Split, Shotgun-Spread, Shotgun-Trips, Weak-Y-Trips
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 210.1 yards allowed per game (52nd in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 128.6 yards allowed per game (34th in nation)
The Maryland Terrapins hope to contend for their conference title but will have to do so by winning road games against favorites North Carolina State and Florida State. That's not an easy task, but the Terrapins are returning a lot of talent, particularly on defense, which features several nicely rated standouts. The core offensive starters are balanced but lack a true game-breaking threat. The Terrapins playbook--with five shotgun formations--encourages a wide open offense. WR #34 is your deep threat, despite the poor overall rating, while other receivers and the tight-end should focus on a short passing game.
#16 - Louisiana State Tigers
2002 Record: 8-5
Conference: SEC (T-2nd in West)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 153.1 yards per game (102nd in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 196.9 yards per game (29th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Empty, Ace-Slot, I Form-Normal, I Form-Twins, Shotgun-5 Wide, Shotgun-Ace, Shotgun-Split, Shotgun-Spread, Shotgun-Trips
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 152.7 yards allowed per game (2nd in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 134.1 yards allowed per game (40th in nation)
The LSU Tigers are looking to improve on last seasons second place finish in the western half of the SEC. The Tigers feature an above average quarterback but not a superstar. A couple stellar wide outs (WR #9 with 97 speed) provide a legitimate passing threat while a trio of halfbacks (all above 80s in overall rating) can aid in the running game; dont be hesitant to experiment with the second string halfback, who has better speed and acceleration but lacks the strength and tackle breaking ability of the starter.
#17 - Tennessee Volunteers
2002 Record: 8-5
Conference: SEC (3rd in East)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 202.7 yards per game (67th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 150.5 yards per game (55th in nation)
Offensive Formations: I Form-Normal, I Form-Twins, Shotgun-Spread, Shotgun-Trips, Strong-Normal, Strong-Twins, Weak-Normal, Weak-Slot, Weak-Twins
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 156.2 yards allowed per game (4th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 128.6 yards allowed per game (33rd in nation)
Tennessee seeks to regain its normal perch at the top of the SEC, now seemingly controlled by the highly touted Georgia Bulldogs. The Volunteers stingy defense lost eight starters but appear to have retooled nicely; their statistics are mostly solid with a free safety at a 90 overall rating. The offensive starters have decent ratings, but the team does lack a game-breaking star. Still, with depth at halfback, the Vols can shuffle in fresh players as necessary and shouldnt too hurt by a fluke injury to the starter.
#18 - Virginia Cavaliers
2002 Record: 9-5
Conference: ACC (2nd)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 230.1 yards per game (48th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 126.9 yards per game (82nd in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Big, Ace-Bunch, Ace-Trips, Ace-Y-Trips, Ace-Y-Twins, I Form-Twins, Shotgun-Ace Twins, Strong-Normal, Strong-Twins
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 215.7 yards allowed per game (59th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 208.9 yards allowed per game (108th in nation)
Cavalier fans have a lot to be excited about: the team is coming off a second place finish in the ACC, a year where they managed four upsets over ranked teams, and have a legitimate Heisman candidate with their starting senior quarterback. A good set of halfbacks provide needed depth to get through a tough ACC schedule (road games at North Carolina State and Maryland) but its the mediocre rated wideouts that could pose the biggest offensive hurdle. Utilize your tight-end in your offense to help open up passing lanes for the wide receivers. And be wary of the deep ball on defense; the Cavalier safeties will definitely need coverage help.
#19 - Florida Gators
2002 Record: 8-5
Conference: SEC (2nd in East)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 270.7 yards per game (20th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 136.2 yards per game (73rd in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Normal, No Back, Shotgun-2B Slot, Shotgun-5 Wide, Shotgun-Bunch, Shotgun-Spread, Shotgun-Trips, Shotgun-Y-Trips, Strong-Slot
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 162.4 yards allowed per game (7th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 163.2 yards allowed per game (68th in nation)
The Florida Gators are coming off a tough year. They had lost their long-time head coach to the NFL and the new coach inherited a lot of pressure to continue the winning tradition in Gainesville. It was an inconsistent season with big wins against Georgia and Tennessee but horrible losses to conference opponent LSU and bitter rival Florida State. But the Gators are rated solidly. Their top two quarterbacks are virtually interchangeable with nearly identical statistics; their top two halfbacks both have decent, if not spectacular ratings. The Gators deep receiving corps has a couple standouts, primarily #23. The Gators utilize a heavily pass-oriented playbook that includes seven primary pass formations. Use draws from the shotgun formations to keep the opponents defenses honest and work the play-action pass to hit the Gator receivers on deep post and crossing routes.
#20 - Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2002 Record: 10-3
Conference: IA Independents
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 174.2 yards per game (91st in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 139.4 yards per game (68th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Slot, Ace-Trips, Ace-Y-Trips, Ace-Y-Twins, I Form-Tight, Power I, Shotgun-Spread, Strong-Twins, Weak-Twins
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 204.8 yards allowed per game (46th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 95.2 yards allowed per game (10th in nation)
The popular Notre Dame Fighting Irish are coming off a successful season and look to improve on their 10-3 record from 2002. A scan of their offensive and defensive ratings reveals a well-rated group on offense, though no standout weapons, and an above average, improved defensive squad. Couple these strengths with a nicely varied playbook and the Fighting Irish can be an unpredictable and contending team. Mix in runs, options, and short passes to keep your opponent guessing.
#21 - Arizona State Sun Devils
2002 Record: 8-6
Conference: Pac-10 (3rd)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 303.9 yards per game (9th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 89.0 yards per game (111th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Normal, Ace-Trips, Ace-Y-Trips, I Form-Y-Trips, I Form-Tight, No Back, Pro Form-Normal, Strong-Slot, Weak-Normal
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 244.3 yards allowed per game (96th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 119.4 yards allowed per game (27th in nation)
The Sun Devils boast an accurate deep ball passer in QB #16; with an overall rating of 94 and a 94 in throwing power and 92 in throwing accuracy, hes a potent weapon. The other offensive skill positions are solid, but not up to the same caliber. The starting halfback has good speed and acceleration but not much power and the two starting wide outs are better used as possession receivers and not deep ball threats.
#22 - Alabama Crimson Tide
2002 Record: 10-3
Conference: SEC (1st in West)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 190.2 yards per game (77th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 213.2 yards per game (18th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Empty, Ace-Normal, Ace-Slot, Ace-Spread, Ace-Trips, Ace-Y-Trips, I Form-Slot, No Back, Shotgun-Trips
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 177.2 yards allowed per game (17th in nation)
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 80.2 yards allowed per game (4th in nation)
The Crimson Tide have had a tumultuous off-season and look to rebound. Although the team lost some defensive stars that helped them become one of the top squads in the nation, this years ratings are still fairly solid across the board. A steady quarterback and a serviceable running back lead the offense. Wide receivers are a question mark with just five available and all rated below 80 overall.
#23 - Purdue Boilermakers
2002 Record: 7-6
Conference: Big 10 (T-5th)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 255.7 yards per game (31st in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 196.5 yards per game (30th in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Bunch, Ace-Empty, Ace-Spread, Ace-Y-Twins, I Form-Tight, No Back, Shotgun-5 Wide, Shotgun-Bunch, Shotgun-Spread
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 201.0 yards allowed per game (40th in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 116.2 yards allowed per game (23rd in nation)
The Boilermakers compete in a tough conference (which includes the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes) and have a tough schedule with road games at Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State. But Purdue does have solid skill position players on offense with a fast senior halfback and a couple of quality starting wide receivers to utilize in the Boilermakers heavy one-back (Ace) and shotgun formation playbook.
#24 - Texas A&M Aggies
2002 Record: 6-6
Conference: Big 12 (5th in South)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 268.0 yards per game (21st in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 118.2 yards per game (92nd in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Normal, Ace-Slot, Ace-Spread, I Form-Tight, I Form-Twins, Shotgun-Ace, Shotgun-Normal, Shotgun-Spread, Shotgun-Y-Trips
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 207.5 yards allowed per game (51st in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 130.9 yards allowed per game (37th in nation)
The Aggies have two 86 overall rated quarterbacks: the starter is much faster than the backup and should be used by players that prefer the option or a more mobile passer. The backup features similar stats in throwing power and accuracy but simply lacks the speed and acceleration of the default starter. A good halfback and a fast WR #2 should also keep opposing defenses guessing.
#25 - Wisconsin Badgers
2002 Record: 8-6
Conference: Big 10 (T-8th)
2002 Offensive Passing Stats: 164.5 yards per game (96th in nation)
2002 Offensive Rushing Stats: 190.2 yards per game (33rd in nation)
Offensive Formations: Ace-Normal, Ace-Slot, Ace-Twins, Ace-Y-Twins, I Form-Normal, Strong-Normal, Strong-Tight, Strong-Twins, Weak-Twins
2002 Defensive Passing Stats: 224.2 yards allowed per game (67in in nation)
2002 Defensive Rushing Stats: 148.7 yards allowed per game (51st in nation)
The Badgers have a great running back (97 speed, 97 acceleration) and a solid receiving corp. The lack of a shotgun formation in the playbook should keep most players focused on the running game first, which isnt a bad idea. HB #28 is one of the best rated halfbacks in the game and should have coaches thinking run first, pass second. Get the running game off to a good start and use the play-action pass to work the Badgers two speedy wide outs into the scheme.
Chapter 3 - Building a Dynasty
NCAA Football 2004s dynasty mode allows you to take control of a team over multiple seasons. Youll have to maintain good relations with your fans (who will likely want your coachs neck after any tough losses to a hated rival!) and keep your teams prestige up (or increase it, as the case may be) in order to attract the best recruits to fill those holes in your offense and defense created by graduating seniors and skilled underclassmen who choose to leave early for big money in the National Football League.
But before you go off recruiting, you must first survive your first season as head coach. Naturally, you should use the offensive and defensive tips later in this guide to mold your team into a contender. Its a long season and to win your conference and qualify for a bowl game, you must keep star players healthy. Running up the score is certainly fun but you wouldnt want to risk the health of your star running back. Sub out players with the game in hand to avoid catastrophic, season-ending injuries that can turn a promising season into a disaster.
After, hopefully, a successful season, its time to enter the off-season. Depending on the seasons results, your prestige may have risen or dropped. This will have a large impact on your recruiting success. Schools with higher prestige ratings naturally attract the best recruits. That doesnt mean that a lower prestige cant get a quality player. But dont expect a school with a 3-star prestige rating to attract the best blue chip athletes!
Once youve entered the off-season, check all the award winners and stats you wish then head into the off-season schedule. The first task is to learn which of your big name stars have decided to forgo their education for the National Football League--or perhaps they simply graduated! Go into step one, which moves into a list of which players are leaving the school. It also includes their overall statistics. If you wish, you can cycle through other teams to see how they fared or sort your lists by position.
Continue on to recruiting when youre finished. Those players will be removed from your teams roster. Next youre taken to the recruiting central screen. Select the team overview to see your current roster, grades, and needs. Obviously its most important to fill your needs with as much talent as possible but its also important to get talent for future seasons at positions that are likely to have holes in the coming year.
Now you can check the recruiting reports to see specific recruits from each state, all recruits, and just those recruits that have listed your school in their top three choices. When you select a recruit, youre presented with several choices on how to handle the recruit. The first four options cost points and you only have a certain amount of points to allocate to recruiting so its important to spend them wisely. The number of points required for each option depends on how far away you attempt to recruit from your home state (for instance, if youre in Florida it will cost a lot of points to recruit a California athlete). The amount of points you have depends on your team and coachs prestige. The second option is the pitch: how are you going to sell your school to the recruit? You can say how great the program is and pitch its prestige, talk up the location, promise playing time, or emphasize your coaching style.
Its time to recruit! Here are some tips on succeeding during the recruiting weeks:
- You will have the most success recruiting in your home state and in neighboring states (typically states that house other teams in your conference). Far out-of-state prospects require a lot of points to woo to your school. There are usually equal prospects closer to home. Look for them! After youve heavily recruited in-state and neighboring states, then use remaining points for that far out-of-state recruit you cant live without. But dont do it too early or you may find yourself wishing you had those extra points to convince some in-state recruits to choose your school over your in-state rival. Remember that it could cost a high number of points each week to get that out-of-state recruit. It adds up quickly and can drain your program.
- Interest level plays a huge role on a recruits commitment chances. If he lists your school in his top three, then theres a good chance hell come to your program. But if he lists a top prestige school or a school in his home state (if hes an out-of-state prospect) above your school, then it may cost a lot of points to get him and may not be worth the effort if there are comparable candidates elsewhere.
- If youre a 5 or 6-star prestige level school then you will pretty much have the run of the table. Be aggressive in your recruiting. There will be plenty of prospects interested in your program (especially if youre coming off a good season) and they can be more easily convinced that your school should be their top selection. Use the program prestige pitch since its one of your schools strongest assets.
- The playtime and coaching strategy pitch are ideal against wide receivers and quarterbacks if you are a pass-oriented (66%+) team and ideal against running backs if you are a ruin-oriented (66%+) team. But trying to pitch playtime to a running back in your passing offense wont be very effective.
- If youre really interested in a particular prospect but he doesnt list your school as one of his top three, then check out his top three and try to gauge what hes interested in. If he lists three powerhouses (such as three 6-star prestige schools), then unless youre also a 6-star prestige school then theres probably little chance of getting the recruit. But if he lists smaller schools, perhaps location is more important to him than the schools prestige?
- You current roster seems to matter to a recruit. For instance, if you have a trio of sophomore or freshmen running backs on roster, convincing that running back recruit to give your school a chance might be more difficult than if you have a couple senior running backs ready to graduate. In the latter case, the prospect will be more convinced hell be the starter the following year instead of having to compete for playing time against your crowded roster.
- The location pitch seems more effective if the prospect lists your school but not another school in your same state--especially if that program has more prestige than your school.
- Dont feel the need to get all blue chip prospects if you arent a 6-star prestige school. Four-star players are much more likely to commit to your school than blue chips (with a lot less convincing) and will still have stellar stats by the time theyre on the field.
- The recruiting challenge will be much greater if youve chosen a 1-star or 2-star prestige school in dynasty mode. Your targets should be 2 or 3 star prospects. Youll have some interests and should get as many as you possible can to commit. Interested prospects will be your first list. Then find any with high interest but perhaps didnt list your school in the top three (a green interest bar). Location is a good pitch as a small school, then playing time specifically for needs, and coaching style for specific position players (quarterbacks and wide outs for passing teams and running backs and full backs for running teams). The prestige pitch is usually avoided as a low prestige school, especially if the recruit lists any schools with high prestige.
Chapter 4 - Offensive Gameplan
Theres a saying that defense wins championships, but we say offense looks more exciting! As any good defensive coach would say, an effective offense boils down to unpredictability and good play calling. You want to give your offense the best chance to move the ball against what your opponent has lined up on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
In NCAA Football 2004, teams have their own playbooks. The playbooks consist of several formations and each formation is made up of similar plays. This section covers the basics of offensive play calling and provides tips on improving your running game and passing attack.
Know Your Teams Strengths...and Weaknesses
This should be a given to any football gaming veteran. A team like Florida has an overabundance of shotgun formations for a reason: its their strength. Sure they have a decent running back but they have the personnel (or at least they hope they do) for a wide open air attack.
Or take Kansas State for instance with a fast quarterback and a dominant running back. Dont select the #5 ranked Wildcats and pass every single down if you hope to win consistently against tough opponents. As Keyshawn Johnson of the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Bucs once said (changed slightly), "Get your stars the dang ball!" If youve got a receiver rated 99, use him. And if youre in an online game, make sure your opponent thinks youre going to use him so you can open up big plays on the other side of the field.
Mix It Up
If you pass on every single down, your opponent is simply going to sit back in a nickel or dime defense and, likely, eventually pick one off. Your goal is to remain unpredictable. Dont always run the ball on 1st and 10. Dont always pass the ball on 3rd and long. Select a traditional running formation, like I Form, and select a pass play instead. Or choose a shotgun formation and run a quarterback draw or an option to the right or left.
If youre constantly dropping back and hurling deep balls, your opponent is going to catch on. It may take one 80-yard touchdown for your opponent to learn his lesson but it wont be long before your receivers are covered like blankets or your quarterback is flat on his back with a linebacker on top of him. Never running the ball means your opponent needs no linebackers to hold the line.
Prepare Your Audibles and Hot Routes
Even if youre mixing it up, your opponent may have called the perfect defense for your play selection. Know your audibles and call one that takes your opponents defensive call to task. Likewise, hot routes can be invaluable. Did you survey the defense and see a corner creeping up toward the line in preparation for a blitz? Call a hot route on that receiver to do a quick out or slant and hit him where the defender has vacated his position.
NCAA Football 2004 includes a lot of opportunities for the trick play. Call a WR reverse pass and toss it back to the quarterback! Hes often open (though can also get injured easily from a crushing hit). Dont neglect plays like WR sweeps, which arent trick plays but help mix up your offense and help keep it unpredictable. Then theres of course the popular halfback option pass. Either run around the end on a sweep or toss the ball downfield.
You can also lateral the ball while youre running down field. You just broke a run and are about to be tackled but theres a linemen following your running back hoping to make a key block. You can lateral the ball to him! Its a huge risk and isnt recommended unless you need a game-breaking play to turn the game around.
The Onside Kick
You just scored a touchdown but still trail late in the game. Time to bust out the onside kick and hope your team manages to recover the ball. Its definitely a crapshoot. Theres no perfect way to do the onside kick, but here are some pointers to increase your odds of making a successful recover. Obviously you must call the onside recover kickoff team. This puts a different squad on the field than the standard kickoff. In fact, you may want to customize it further. Do mass subs on the formation and put in your best catch, carry, speed, and acceleration players on the team if they arent already. Move the kick angle all the way down to the field then pull it up just a notch. Move it all the way to the left or right depending on where your onside kick squad is located then move it back the other way just slightly. For power, you can let it go all the way up and down, which will occasionally provide a good kick or try to stop it with low power.
When a quarterback approaches the line of scrimmage, he surveys the defense and, if he reads the defense well, knows exactly whats in store for the offensive play. Hell know if its zone or man-to-man, whos probably blitzing, and which receiver might be lined up for a deep ball opportunity. Here are some tips on reading defenses effectively.
1) Put a receiver in motion. If hes followed across the field by a defender, the defensive play includes man-to-man coverage, at least with the corner backs. If the safeties remain deep, theyre likely in zone. Look for shorter routes to exploit the man-to-man defenders.
2) If both safeties remain deep, chucking a deep ball will be a very risky proposition. The safeties will be in zone and will assist other defenders when a receiver enters their zone. Now youre double-covered (or worse), which is a low percentage play. Sure, you can make the completion from time to time, but you could also be intercepted. Youre better off going for a short pass than taking a big risk on the bomb.
3) Your opponent called a 4-3 defense and you have three receivers lined up on the field. One of his linebackers just shifted over in front of your slot receiver. You now have a huge mismatch, receiver versus linebacker. The receiver should have little trouble outrunning the burly linebacker if you hot route him to a streak pattern. Exploit these mismatches!
4) A safety has moved up closer to the line of scrimmage. Hes no longer zone and hes man-on-man. If the receiver on that side is already covered, then hes likely assuming the responsibility of one of the linebackers (such as man on the tight-end or running back). This means the linebacker is blitzing! Expect it and counter it by moving the opposite way in the pocket or calling a hot route.
5) Your opponent has called a line audible and pinched them inside to close down the inside run. Call an audible to an outside run or just audible to a pass. Likewise, when the linebackers move up to the line, expect the blitz and avoid running up the middle. If the safeties move up to the line, time to make him pay with a deep ball. If you dont have one called, use the hot route on your fastest receiver.
The Running Game
The running game requires patience. You just simply are unlikely to bust off big runs play after play. You might lose a yard here and there but if you stick with it, youre just as likely to bust off a 20 yard gain. A solid running game is usually one that follows the play design. If the play is designed to go off the tackle then your offensive linemen are assigned to block accordingly. Therefore, use that hole created by your linemen instead of looking for your own path.
Now, of course blocking does break down. Your opponent may have called a linebacker blitz there that you werent expecting and now the hole is quickly filled. You must be able to make quick decisions and adjustments. Above all else, get positive yardage. Defenders are unforgiving. The more time you spent dancing in the backfield, the sooner the linebackers and defensive backs are going to be crowding the line of scrimmage leaving you no where to run.
Passing and running attacks go hand in hand. Improving your running game means passing effectively as well. This will keep defenders back and off the line of scrimmage to protect against the deep threat. Then again, a running game will open up the passing game as your opponent will stack the line hoping to stop your run and now youve tossed one over the top of the stack for a big gain.
Dont neglect your special moves on your running game but dont necessarily abuse them either. Its not necessary to jam on the sprint button immediately. Look for the hole then hit the hole with the sprint button. If you sprint to the line you may get there before the hole opens and youll just run into bodies and get nowhere. The juke buttons are also effective in dodging a defender but dont use it if you have the open field. The juke slows you down and could give a pursuer a chance to make a diving tackle. The stiff arm is a good power move that could help you break a tackle.
Run away from blitzes if possible. Perhaps your opponent continually blitzes from one side. Choose running plays on the opposite side. Or audible to a running play on that side. Call audibles that use the same formation you just called. That way your players wont move--a telltale sign of a called audible (though the quarterback signals, which is also an indicator). Your opponent may remain in the same vulnerable defense or try to audible, at which point you can hike and run against a scrambled defense. Also, check your favorite teams linemen statistics. If the right side of the line is the higher rated side, youre likely to have more success running behind those linemen then you are on the other side.
The option can be a powerful offense when run efficiently. If you want to practice the option, give Kansas State a try. The Wildcats have a fast quarterback and a fast running back--a lethal combination for sure. Your goal on an option play is to make the defender commit. Make him either commit to your quarterback or protect the running backs lane. If the defender goes for the quarterback, pitch it to the running back; if the defender tries to contain the running back, run inside with the quarterback.
Survey the defense carefully after selecting an option play. The more linebackers, particularly those on the outer edge of the linemen, the harder your outside option run will be. Blitzing can also significantly hamper your option game, particularly corner or nickel blitzes from the outside. Mix up some straight quarterback draws to keep your opponent from protecting the outsides. Or call an option to the fullback for an inside run. On these option plays (usually called triple option), hold down the hike button to hand off to the fullback.
Option passing can also be a blast when run effectively. One of the biggest concerns is your quarterbacks drop back animation. When you activate the passing window, your quarterback sets his feet, which makes him backpedal slightly. If theres a blitzing defender coming from that direction, the time wasted on backpedaling could be just enough for the defender to wrap his arms around your quarterback for an easy sack. Dont open the passing windows too quickly. If you have a fast quarterback, stay in running mode until you have enough time to set your feet and throw. If you dont have enough time, then you shouldnt pass.
The Passing Attack
A deep post pattern hit in stride is a beautiful thing. Theres no doubt a power running game is fun to watch but an aerial shootout with wideouts nearing 200 yards receiving is high entertainment. This section provides some tips on opening up those passing lanes and finding better success in your teams passing attack.
- Matchups are extremely important in the passing game. Its essentially your guy up against his guy. If your guy is better than his guy, you win the match-up. For example, youre one-on-one on the outside with a receiver at 97 speed but the defender only possesses 85 speed. Youre going to win that match-up in single coverage. But matchups go deeper than that. If you call a three wide receiver formation and your opponent is in a 4-3 defense, then he could have a linebacker matched up with one of your receivers. If the linebacker moves over toward your receiver, then hes got man coverage on that receiver until the safeties pick up your target deep. Thus, you have a great match-up here in hitting that receiver on a short crossing route or out pattern. Use a hot route if necessary!
- A good passing attack is also about passing lanes. You want a clear lane from quarterback to receiver. If the lane isnt clear, you risk an interception (at least if the defenders are paying attention!). If you arent under heavy pressure, you can wait for the lane to open. For instance, a receiver on a deep crossing route. Theres a defender between your position and the receiver at the moment. But look to where the receiver is going; theres no help on that side. When the receiver crosses the first defenders position, hes entering a free passing lane. Once hes beyond the defender, toss the ball and hit him in stride.
- Interceptions are startlingly easy to throw if you arent careful. Throwing into double coverage has a very low completion percentage rate and a much greater chance of interception. Avoid deep passes into more than single-coverage. If the defenders are in a zone, be very careful when waiting for your throwing lane. Defenders will sit in their zone if no receivers are around. You may be watching a receiver get open and not notice that middle linebacker sitting in the middle of his zone just waiting for the ball.
- When you have a one-on-one match-up on a deep ball, go for it. Theres little reason not to throw the ball. Odds are in your favor for the most part. You can let the CPU controlled receiver do all the work or select the receiver get him to the ball.
- The pump fake can be effective in some situations but it also takes time, which could give blitzing defenders the necessary time to sack your quarterback. A pump fake can fake out a blitzing defender (hell jump in the air trying to block the pass) and even confuse a defensive back slightly. If you have the time in the pocket, give it a try. If you need to pass quickly, avoid.
- Dont forget that you can switch your quarterback to running mode and back to passing whenever necessary. For instance, if you want to do a rollout pass, dont do so with the passing windows open. Your quarterback will be slow in his throwing stance! Switch to run mode and sprint to the outside. Then reopen the passing windows and strike!
- If you see your receivers getting caught up at the line when trying to run their routes, put them in motion then hike the ball.
- Your quarterback will throw more accurately when hes able to plant his feet. But this takes up valuable time. Its much quicker to throw on the run. But the downfall is that he wont throw as accurately, especially on deeper tosses or out patterns thrown hard. Its a snap decision. If you have the time, try to steady your quarterback before throwing. But if youre fleeing blitzing defenders then do whatever you need to do to get the ball downfield.
- Dont forget the "Throw the Ball Away" button! You cant do so while in the pocket but if youre outside the tackles, you can toss the ball into the stands without penalty. This is much better than taking a sack! 2nd and 10 is a lot easier to convert than 2nd and 21.
- Screen passes to the running back and wide receivers are great for countering a pass rush. Just backpedal against the blitz and toss to the running back or receiver when hes through the line and has blockers in front.
- Dont forget you can gun the ball by holding down the pass button or lob it by tapping it. Gunned balls on out patterns (sideline patterns) are usually overthrown, especially if youre on the run when you let the ball fly. If youre wide open, consider the lob. With little risk of interception, your receiver will have extra time to reach the ball.
- You want your playmakers to get the ball as often as possible but astute defensive coaches will double-team those high rated receivers to prevent from getting burned. This will open up the passing lanes for your other receivers and tight-end. The tight-end can be a potent weapon in certain situations (and certain teams, just look at Miamis tight-end!), particularly when you need to dump the ball off quickly because of an incoming blitz.
- Play-action passes (which are plays with PA in the name) are powerful in this years version of NCAA! It truly fakes a handoff which can confuse defenders (and really catch human opponents off guard). Set up the play-action with several running plays. Be careful when calling play-action against a heavy blitz. The play-action animation causes hesitation on your quarterbacks backpedaling, which could give the blitzing defenders time to record a sack.
Chapter 5 - Defensive Gameplan
A popular football mantra is "Defense wins championships." And the saying holds true in NCAA Football 2004. A steady, unpredictable defensive coach that makes sound play calls can keep the opposing team out of scoring range and always give the offense the ability to stay in the game.
In NCAA Football 2004, all teams have the same defensive formations and plays. Of course, each team has different personnel. The defensive squad on Oklahoma is far superior to the defensive players on Wisconsin, for instance. The key is to play to your defenses strengths.
When you decide on a team, check their defensive starters and survey their statistics. If you have a highly rated group of linebackers but poorly rated safeties then you will be stronger against the run than the pass. But if your cornerbacks and safeties are superior to your linebackers then your pass defense should be better than your run defense. You will need to adjust your play calls and your audibles to compensate for your lack of talent.
This section will go over the defensive formations and provide suggestions on when to utilize each one. It will also cover how to adjust your position players before the ball is snapped as a way of anticipating what your opponent has planned. Specific defensive calls are also touched upon as well as how to best control your player in run stopping or pass defense scenarios.
NCAA Football 2004 allows you to move your three primary defensive positions before the ball is snapped. The three are your linemen, your linebackers, and your coverage (cornerbacks and safeties). By repositioning these players, you can better structure your defense to stop the run, protect against the deep ball, jam a tight-end off the line of scrimmage, or a variety of all of these. Here are the specific button combinations to move your line, linebackers, and coverage and the reason to do each.
|L1 on PS2, L on X-Box and Gamecube||Left||Linemen shift to the left||If youre anticipating a run to the left, moving a lineman in front of a tight-end to jam, or opening a space for a blitzing linebacker.|
|L1 on PS2, L on X-Box and Gamecube||Right||Linemen shift to the right||If youre anticipating a run to the right, moving a lineman in front of a tight-end to jam, or opening a space for a blitzing linebacker.|
|L1 on PS2, L on X-Box and Gamecube||Down||Linemen close together||If youre anticipating a run up the middle or freeing up the end for an outside blitzer.|
|L1 on PS2, L on X-Box and Gamecube||Up||Linemen spread apart||If youre anticipating an outside run or opening the middle for a blitzing linebacker.|
|R1 on PS2, R on X-Box and Gamecube||Left||Linebackers shift to the left||If youre anticipating an outside run to the left or want to open a lane for a blitzing linebacker.|
|R1 on PS2, R on X-Box and Gamecube||Right||Linebackers shift to the right||If youre anticipating an outside run to the left or want to open a lane for a blitzing linebacker.|
|R1 on PS2, R on X-Box and Gamecube||Down||Linebackers approach the line of scrimmage||If youre anticipating a run and want to fill gaps or want faster blitz pressure on the quarterback.|
|R1 on PS2, R on X-Box and Gamecube||Up||Linebackers spread apart||If youre protecting against the outside run or opening a lane for an outside blitz.|
|Triangle on PS2, Y on the X-Box and Gamecube||Down||Cornerbacks and safeties move closer to the line of scrimmage||Cornerbacks will be close to their coverage assignments in man-on-man and safeties move to the line to provide run support. Good against runs or short passes but very vulnerable to a deep ball.|
|Triangle on PS2, Y on the X-Box and Gamecube||Up||Cornerbacks and safeties move back off the line of scrimmage even further||Cornerbacks will move back off their receivers and safeties move back further. Good if youre anticipating a deep ball but more vulnerable to the run and very vulnerable to certain short passes and crossing routes.|
Decoding a Defensive Play
There are certain important defensive concepts to grasp before understanding the ins and outs of each defensive formation.
When you are cycling through specific defensive plays looking for your favorite, you will notice a few symbols, colors, and arrows near each player. Each of these reveals a particular action that the defensive player will perform. These are:
1) If a player has an arrow moving toward the bottom of the screen (or toward the line of scrimmage and offensive team), this indicates that the defensive player is blitzing the quarterback. Hes forgoing any pass coverage or run stopping duties and attempting to put pressure on the quarterback.
2) If a player is colored red, hes in man-to-man coverage with a specific offensive player. If all players are red, then all players are in man-to-man, which means each defensive player will be responsible for a particular offensive player. If the offense has more receivers than you have man-on-man defenders, then the offense will have a wide open passing opportunity.
3) If a player has a yellow circle around him (or if a line connects him to a yellow circle), then that player is in zone coverage, which means the player is responsible for a particular area of the field. If an offensive player moves into that area, then the defender covers him but once he moves out of that area, the defender returns to the coverage zone and another defender picks up the offensive player.
4) If a player is colored blue, hes a spy, which means hes in charge of following the quarterbacks movements. This is to counter a rollout or, primarily, an option pass or run play.
One important tool on defense is the coachs camera (R2 on PS2 and R on X-Box and Gamecube). Press and hold this button on defense to show the defensive assignments. It will look similar to the defensive play section but it will also show man-on-man defensive assignments. For instance, youve chosen the middle linebacker to control. Hit the coachs camera button to see specifically who the middle linebacker is to cover. Note that if the offense uses motion before the snap that the man-on-man assignments can change. Check the coachs camera again should an offensive player go into motion. The coachs camera can help you decide who to select on defense. For instance, you wouldnt want to select a defender assigned to cover a receiver and then blitz with that same defender! Youll leave a receiver wide open!
Each team has the same seven defensive formations. To a football novice, the names of each formation would certainly appear confusing but once you know what each name indicates, the strengths and weaknesses of each formation become much clearer. Keep in mind that all suggestions provided here are just that, suggestions. You may find instances where goal line works against the pass and dime doesnt. There are numerous variables to take into account. The best you can do is to prepare your defense to anticipate a play and adjust accordingly.
- Goal Line: Perhaps the most obviously named defensive formation, goal line is usually reserved for the goal line or in short yardage situations. For instance, if your opponent needs just one yard to convert for a first down or is on your two yard line looking to punch it in for a touchdown. Use goal line when you are nearly 99% sure your opponent plans to run the ball and has selected a run formation, such as the offensive goal line formation or any "tight" formation (for example, a formation that contains two tight-ends and no more than two wide receivers). Of course nothing is ever a given; there are pass plays from the goal line formation. Move up your coverage and linebackers to the line of scrimmage. Adjust your linebackers to plug the holes between lineman for the best possible chance of stopping an inside run. If you feel your opponent may pass, call a goal line with zone coverage in the secondary. Goal line is best avoided in obvious passing situations, however, particularly against an offense that lines up more than two wide receivers.
- 3-4: The numbers in this defense refer to the number of down linemen (defensive tackles and ends), the 3, and linebackers, the 4. The additional linebackers provide greater mobility along the line, particularly against the short passing game as the linebackers can disrupt the passing lanes. Its more effective against outside runs then inside runs (depending on your linebacker placement) but certainly wouldnt be a top choice as a run stopping defense. Though effective against short passes, be wary when the offense has three or more receivers: you dont want a linebacker up against your opponents quick receiver on a deep ball!
- 4-3: Just like the 3-4, the title of this defense refers to the number of down linemen and linebackers; in this case, its four down linemen and three linebackers. This is a very flexible defense as the four linemen can generate a pass rush if your linemen are better rated than your opponents offensive linemen. The additional lineman helps clog the middle running lanes but the lack of an extra linebacker can make this defense weaker against outside runs and option plays. Avoid in obvious passing situations where your opponent chose a spread or shotgun formation with more than two receivers.
- 4-4: This is also called the "Stack" defense; it uses four linemen and four linebackers. This is a solid run stopping defense for both inside and outside runs and should prove effective against an option opponent. But you only have one safety deep so its vulnerable to the deep pass. Blitzing from this formation is quite powerful as long as youre catching your opponent off guard. If hes prepared, a screen pass or quick slant could turn into a big gain.
- 5-2: Five down linemen close the run lanes, two linebackers cover the short pass, and the four defensive backs follow their coverage assignments. Good against the inside run but susceptible to option and outside runs unless your team has good defensive ends. Like the previous defenses, beware when using against the pass. In fact, dont!
- Nickel: The nickel is a base pass defense against a three wide receiver offensive formation. Its called the nickel because instead of the typical four defensive backs, this defense uses five. Therefore against a three receiver set, you could have three cornerbacks matched up against all three receivers and still have two deep safeties for zone help. Or against a four wide receiver set, one safety up to assist the corners. The subtraction of a linebacker makes this defense weaker against the run and option runs.
- Dime: While the name might suggest this defense uses ten defensive backs, it in fact uses six. This is the "the offensive is going to pass for sure!" defense. Situations like 3rd and 15 or the Hail Mary are ideal for the dime defense. Six defensive backs can cover four receiver sets man-to-man with corners on each receiver with safety help and five receiver sets with one safety up and the other in zone. As you might suspect, the dime is weak against runs, option runs, and quarterback scrambles.
So you know the position movements and defensive formations but need some more pointers on applying both selections to a smart defensive play selection. There isnt one impenetrable wall-like defense. There are far too many factors to consider one formation or one defensive play the best in the game. Its all about adjusting to your opponent.
In some ways the computer-controlled team is more unpredictable than a human opponent when it comes to football games! Human players have tendencies. Does he run consistently on 1st and 10? Does he ever run the ball at all? Does he favor a particular receiver? Does he call the same play over and over again? Its important to watch for these things and adjust accordingly. This section reveals additional tips on defensive play selection and making those adjustments.
- Use the position movements to anticipate your opponents play call. You just called a 3-4 defense and are convinced the call is an option play to the right. Shift your linebackers to the right to better control the outside lanes. Or perhaps you called a nickel defense and think your opponent actually plans to run the ball. Shift your coverage up to the line. The safeties move toward the line of scrimmage and will be in better position to plug the gaps.
- Shifting player movements can also free up blitzing defenders or get them closer to the line. For instance, your two middle linebackers in a 3-4 are blitzing. Open your linemen using the L1 and up combination then use the R1 and down combination to shift your linebackers to the line.
- When you call a man-on-man defense, youre saying that your cornerbacks can match up stride for stride against your opponents receivers. If youre not certain, know the stats! If your corner has a speed of 80 but his receiver has a speed of 97, you will not be able to keep up on a deep pass pattern. Call a defense that doubles that receiver or use one that keeps the safeties in zone coverage for deep help.
- Zone defense allows your defenders to cover areas of the field but it does produce holes and can be ripped apart by a short to medium passing game if the offense has effective play calling. For instance, your opponent calls a curl pattern that happens to lie in between two of your defenders. Hell be wide open and catch the ball easily. Hell be tackled quickly but you cant simply give up dinks and dunks all the way down the field. Put pressure on the quarterback with blitzes and guard these holes in your zone. The good thing about zone is that you usually have players in passing lanes and in NCAA Football 2004, players are quite adept at snagging an interception.
- Zone defenses cover the deep ball fairly well (particularly inside and straight patterns) but seem susceptible to corner routes where the receiver runs a straight pattern then a 45-degree angle away from the center of the field (and away from your other defenders). The deep safeties seem to leave a hole here so watch for these routes.
- You dont see much option play in the NFL, so it can be a challenge for long-time Madden players to adjust to the offensive scheme. Your goal when defending against the option is containment. You want to have containment on the quarterback and on the outside run as well (certainly not possible on each and every play). If the running back is free on the outside, you may want to stick close and force the quarterback inside. If you go for the quarterback and he makes the pitch, the running back could have an open sideline to dance all the way down into the end zone. Think containment first then tackle. Dont haphazardly dive. Keep your defender moving sideways and either force the quarterback inside toward your other defenders or force the running back far on the outside to either stumble out of bounds, smash into your open arms, or turn inside to your other defenders.
- Use defenses with the word "Spy" in them against option opponents. And when you call the Spy defense, if you do control the linebacker assigned to spy, make sure you follow the quarterback! Or simply control another defender and allow the spy to follow the quarterback.
Controlling Your Defender
Youve made extremely effective defensive formation selections but if you make a mistake when controlling your defender, your opponent could still make a long run or complete a big pass. Here are some tips on controlling your defender to prevent the big play.
- When going in for a tackle, avoid the dive button. Instead, move your defender using the sprint button toward where your opponent is moving, not where he currently stands. Essentially youre trying to cut him off, not go where he was just a second ago! Choose an attack angle that will meet the ball carrier as soon as possible. Naturally, watch out for a spin move or juke. Strike the ball carrier to wrap him up. This is a better choice than going for a dive, which is more easily avoided by a quick controller movement, spin, or juke.
- If the ball carrier is moving into a hole created by the offensive linemen, go into the hole. Hell be forced to go through your body or take another route, which gives the other defenders more time to break free of their blocks and reach the ball carrier.
- Your opponent has just tossed a deep pass on you. Your defender is stride for stride. What should you do? Dont go for the hit or the interception, its best to go for the swat. Select the defender and press the swat key to swat the ball down. This is generally more effective than trying for a risky interception, which, if missed, could lead to an easy touchdown. If you miss the swat and he still catches the ball, you can still get the tackle.
- If the ball is headed toward a zone defender, select him and press the jump button to go for the interception.
- If you play as a lineman to try and get pressure on the quarterback, dont forget the swim moves, which will be even more effective against an offensive lineman that arent as strong as the defensive lineman you are controlling.
Chapter 6 - Online Strategies
The PlayStation 2 version of NCAA Football 2004 includes online play (if you also own the Sony network adapter). Online play is certainly exciting. It keeps track of your record, scoring, and even how many times you disconnected from a game (shame on you!). This section offers some additional tips on maintaining your sanity while competing on the online gridiron.
- Expect to face many top 5 teams when youre playing online. Whether they are your opponents favorite teams are not, the fact is these teams are highly rated, quite powerful, and a popular choice in the online crowd (particularly if youre choosing random match-up games). Youll face your share of Miami, Oklahoma, Texas, and, of course, Ohio State. But there are those that venture out of the top 5 and choose their favorite squad, even brave enough to venture down into the top 50. So when you want to bring your alma mater UCF to the online gridiron, dont be surprised when Ohio State fan manhandles you. The online community definitely respects your selection, however!
- With that said, know the top teams and know their tendencies. Oklahoma is a powerhouse on defense; Miami is extremely fast and most Hurricanes favor the deep ball; and Texas WR #4 is ungodly. Its wise to know what youre up against and form a gameplan accordingly. Running against Oklahoma will be extremely tough so start mixing in the short passes to loosen the Sooners defense and hopefully open up the running game. Start calling nickel against Miami when the shotgun formations are called. And by all means, cover WR #4 if you're playing Texas!
- It pays to be unpredictable when facing a human opponent. Call a run offensive formation but pass. Call a shotgun formation but choose a draw play to the running back instead. Watch what defensive formation your opponent selects. If he just chose a dime, he expects you to pass. Throw a run at him. When he chooses a 4-4, hes very well blitzing or at worst looking to stuff your run or option. Choose a quick pass or a screen to burn that blitz.
- Prepare your audibles before playing online. You just called a run but your opponent has moved up the safeties and linebackers anticipating your call. This would be a great time for an audible! Select some of your favorite plays for your audibles. Try and have some for specific situations, such as a quick slant to burn a blitz, a deep ball when you spot a one-on-one match-up or a run play for when the defense is playing off anticipating the pass.
- Hot routes are another important tool for online play. Say you just called a play where your two left receivers go deep. But your opponents corners are playing off. Wouldnt it be great if one of those receivers ran a short out pattern? With hot routes they can! Call a hot route and press the receivers button followed by a directional key (which is toward the sidelines for a quick out). Check the games manual for more information on hot routes.
- Mismatches are important on offense. Look for opportunities to line up one of your receivers against your opponents linebacker. When you see one of his linebackers shift over to coverage, you know the receiver has the advantage. Look for him!
- At the time of this writing, if the connection is lost during the game, you dont want to quit. Continue to play against the computer if you care about your online record. If you quit, it goes toward your disconnection rate. You dont want other online players thinking you quit on games do you?
- The hurry up offense can capitalize on a poor defensive call. As an example: your opponent just called a 4-4 formation and a heavy blitz against your deep pass. You end up sacked. But you know your play has the advantage against that defense. Call a hurry up to get back to the line and run the play. Toss the ball quickly to the open man before the blitz reaches your quarterback! Look for wise online opponents to audible out of their defense, however.
- Dont neglect the offensive and defensive tips throughout this game guide. They are as applicable online as they are against the computer.
- If you didnt enjoy playing with a particular online opponent or if he quit on your game, check your "User Information" when in a lobby. It tracks your last 10 games. You can note the user id of the other player and then steer clear of him and his games!
Chapter 7 - Secrets
This chapter reveals a collection of secrets in NCAA Football 2004. There are many pennants to unlock and secrets to find; this section covers many of them but there are more to be found than just those listed here.
Just scored a hard fought touchdown and feel like celebrating? Press the following button combinations when the word "Touchdown" appears after a score to perform the corresponding celebration. Be warned, however. Touchdown celebrations are frowned upon in college football! In fact, you may receive a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty!
On the PlayStation 2:
L2 + Square: The player spikes the ball, points to the crowd then beats his chest.
L2 + Triangle: The player bows to the crowd.
L2 + Circle: The player spikes the ball then shrugs his shoulder.
L2 + X: The player does Heisman Trophy pose (Desmond Howard anyone?).
R2 + Square: The player dunks the football on the goal post.
R2 + Triangle: The player punches the ball toward the crowd.
R2 + Circle: The player kicks the balls into the crowd.
R2 + X: The player throws the ball to the crowd.
On the Gamecube:
L + B: The player spikes the ball, points to the crowd then beats his chest.
L + Y: The player bows to the crowd.
L + X: The player spikes the ball then shrugs his shoulder.
L + A: The player does Heisman Trophy pose (Desmond Howard anyone?).
R + B: The player dunks the football on the goal post.
R + Y: The player punches the ball toward the crowd.
R + X: The player kicks the balls into the crowd.
R + A: The player throws the ball to the crowd.
On the X-Box:
L + X: The player spikes the ball, points to the crowd then beats his chest.
L + Y: The player bows to the crowd.
L + B: The player spikes the ball then shrugs his shoulder.
L + A: The player does Heisman Trophy pose (Desmond Howard anyone?).
R + X: The player dunks the football on the goal post.
R + Y: The player punches the ball toward the crowd.
R + B: The player kicks the balls into the crowd.
R + A: The player throws the ball to the crowd.
EA Sports Bio Rewards
As you play NCAA Football 2004 and achieve certain accomplishments (winning a bowl game, beating a top 25 team, defeating a rival, etc), your EA Sports Bio level goes up. At certain levels, youre given a reward. Here are the EA Sports Bio rewards up to level 18.
Level 2 - Awards the "Butter Fingers" Pennant
Level 4 - Unlocks the Rose Bowl stadium
Level 8 - Unlocks the Orange Bowl stadium
Level 12 - Unlocks the Fiesta Bowl stadium
Level 18 - Unlocks the 2002 All-American Team
Certain teams have "pride stickers." These are the small stickers you may have seen adorn some college players helmets. They are awarded for certain accomplishments, such as scoring TDs or making an interception. Not all teams use pride stickers. If you happen to play a team with pride stickers, you might be awarded some! Check next to the players name to see how many pride stickers you have accumulated.
Here are the list of teams that use pride stickers: Akron, Arizona, Clemson, Colorado, ECU, FSU, Georgia, Hawaii, Houston, Louisville, Missouri, NCST, North Carolina, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rice, SMU, Southern Miss, Temple, UCF, UConn, Utah
Tired of seeing WR #8 and QB #16 all the time and prefer to use the real college names? There are several roster resources available on the Internet. Perhaps the best one is at http://www.ps2rosters.com. Over 200 hours was put into the rosters, which also include unique looks for particular players and squads. Go check it out if youre looking to add to your NCAA Football 2004 experience!
NCAA Football 2004 includes rivalry games. These are specific match-ups that feature unique game names and some even award trophies that appear in your "My NCAA" trophy room. The rivalry games listed below are those that include trophies. Other rivalry games can be found in the "Rivalry Games" selection from the Game Modes menu.
|TEAM #1||TEAM #2||RIVALRY GAME||TROPHY NAME|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||Auburn Tigers||Iron Bowl||ODK-Foy Sportsmanship Trophy|
|Arizona Wildcats||Arizona St. Sun Devils||Big Game||Territorial Cup|
|Arkansas Razorbacks||LSU Tigers||Battle for the Golden Boot||Golden Boot|
|Army Black Knights||Navy Midshipmen||Army-Navy Game||Commander-in-Chief Trophy|
|Boston College Eagles||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||Battle for the Ireland Trophy||Ireland Trophy|
|Bowling Green Falcons||Toledo Rockets||Battle of I-75||Peace Pipe|
|Cal Golden Bears||Stanford Cardinal||Big Game||Stanford Axe|
|Cincinnati Bearcats||Miami (OH) Redhawks||Battle for the Victory Bell||Victory Bell|
|Clemson Tigers||North Carolina State Wolfpack||Textile Bowl||Textile Bowl Trophy|
|Colorado St. Rams||Wyoming||Border War||Bronze Boot|
|Houston Cougars||Rice Owls||Battle for the Administaff Bayou Bucket||Administaff Bayou Bucket|
|Illinois Fighting Illini||Northwestern Wildcats||Battle for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk||Sweet Sioux Tomahawk|
|Illinois Fighting Illini||Ohio State Buckeyes||Battle for the Illiback||Illiback|
|Illinois Fighting Illini||Purdue Boilermakers||Battle for the Purdue Cannon||Purdue Cannon|
|Indiana Hoosiers||Purdue Boilermakers||Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket||Old Oaken Bucket|
|Indiana Hoosiers||Michigan State Spartans||Battle for the Old Brass Spittoon||Old Brass Spittoon|
|Iowa Hawkeyes||Iowa State Cyclones||Battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy||Cy-Hawk Trophy|
|Iowa Hawkeyes||Minnesota Golden Gophers||Battle for the Floyd of Rosedale||Floyd of Rosedale|
|Iowa State Cyclones||Missouri Tigers||Battle for the Telephone Trophy||Telephone Trophy|
|Kansas Jayhawks||Missouri Tigers||Border War||Marching Drum|
|Kansas Jayhawks||Kansas State Wildcats||Battle for the Governors Cup||Governors Cup|
|Marshall Thundering Herd||Ohio Bobcats||Battle for the Bell||The Bell|
|Michigan Wolverines||Michigan State Spartans||Battle for Paul Bunyans Trophy||Paul Bunyans Trophy|
|Michigan Wolverines||Minnesota Golden Gophers||Battle for the Little Brown Jug||Little Brown Jug|
|Michigan State Spartans||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||Battle for the Megaphone||Megaphone|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||Wisconsin Badgers||Battle for Paul Bunyans Axe||Paul Bunyans Axe|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||Penn State Nittany Lions||Battle for the Governors Victory Bell||Governors Victory Bell|
|Mississippi State Bulldogs||Ole Miss Rebels||Egg Bowl||Golden Egg Trophy|
|Missouri Tigers||Nebraska Cornhuskers||Battle for the Missouri-Nebraska Bell||Missouri-Nebraska Bell|
|New Mexico Lobos||New Mexico State Aggies||Battle of I-25||Maloot Trophy|
|New Mexico State Agges||UTEP Miners||Battle of I-10||Silver Spade|
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish||USC Trojans||Battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh||Jeweled Shillelagh|
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish||Purdue Boilermakers||Battle for the Shillelagh Trophy||Shillelagh Trophy|
|Oklahoma Sooners||Texas Longhorns||Red River Shootout||Golden Hat|
|UCLA Bruins||USC Trojans||Battle for the Victory Bell||Victory Bell|
|Virginia Cavaliers||Virginia Tech Hokies||Battle for the Commonwealth Cup||Commonwealth Cup|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||West Virginia Mountaineers||Battle for the Black Diamond Trophy||Black Diamond Trophy|
|Washington Huskies||Washington State Cougars||Apple Cup||Apple Cup|