NCAA Football 14 is here, and fans will flock to EA Sports' latest pigskin game. With a number of features to choose from and a deep Dynasty Mode that will test your college football intellect, you'll play it well into the forthcoming season.
If you're a newcomer, you might want to check out our beginner's tips to get the hang of things. That said, even veterans need help every once and while. On that note, here’s our NCAA Football 14 Advanced eGuide.
Don't be Quick to Pass
You could have the greatest quarterback in the world – like Peyton Manning in his Tennessee heyday – and you're still not guaranteed to make the Hail Mary pass in the end zone. This is mainly due to the positioning of the receivers. That said, watch for two things.
First, the play you select –look where your receiver is headed and how the defense will counter the play. You may need to make an adjustment on the fly to get him open, or at the very least, avoid throwing into double coverage where an interception is all but guaranteed, depending on the skill level of the opposing team.
Second, the run patterns. When a play kicks off, you've got a second or two to read the defensive ends. Keep an eye for whoever might be open, and if you need to, adjust accordingly and pass to another open man. You might not make the end zone in one shot, but you'll have a better chance of hanging onto the ball and may even gain a few yards for the trouble.
Save the long pass plays for when they count. If you're down a few points in the fourth, then you might consider a long pass play. Just remember the other team is probably expecting this. Think, then pass. You'll save yourself a notch in the loss column.
Believe in the Run Game
The running game is more important than ever in NCAA Football 14. Even if you feel like your team doesn't have much of an advantage when it comes to charging down the field, you might consider going for a few plays just to see what kind of mileage you get. At the start of the game, use the "Ask Coach" option to see what run plays are recommended. Try a couple and see how the yards stack up. If you need to, adjust your playbook accordingly in case you need to go a different way. You may throw off defenders.
Another thing to watch for is the direction your runner is headed. When you highlight a running play, you'll see a bright red arrow showing the route he’ll take when handed the ball. Don't stay directly on that route unless it's wide open. Watch for the open routes and take them.
Don't forget that you also have access to juke and spin moves. You shouldn't get too fancy with these, as you might lose balance or enter a "showboat" mode where someone can nail you from behind.
Finally, don't forget about Stumble Recovery. This is a vital addition to the game that'll help keep you on your feet. When you're running down the field, a defenseman can easily make a play for your ankle, causing you to lose balance. Use the right analog stick to maintain your balance and continue running down the field for the score. This might be difficult at first, especially if you've got a defensive end breathing down your neck. Practice it a few times and you'll get the hang of it.
Special Team Madness
Finally, NCAA Football 14 utilizes the same great Special Teams engine that EA Sports used in previous years. Use the right analog stick to set up your power and accuracy, pulling it back to put the meter in motion, then pushing it forward when you're ready to go. NOTE: Push-button controls are also available, if you prefer to go that way.
Accuracy is vital when it comes to nailing that game-winning field goal. Don't forget to factor in wind – it can make all the difference in ball direction, especially on 40-50+ yard kicks. Also make note of the defense. The last thing you want is a free hand coming up to block your final shot at victory.
When it comes to kickoffs, sometimes power isn't everything. When a team's down a score, you can adjust the strength and direction of the kick. Don't feel so trustworthy kicking to a hotshot in the end zone? Send it sailing out of bounds around the 20-25 yard line. You can also try to kick away from a receiver and throw him off, causing him to tumble to the ground for a loss of yards.
Kicking can be the difference between winning and losing. Get the hang of it.
NCAA Football 14 is available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.