"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
It's that time of year when football-starved gaming aficionados devour each morsel of information that EA Sports deigns to leak. With NCAA Football 14—totally not featuring real people, we swear!—set to release next month, that process has begun in earnest. Last week, Operation Sports unleashed a video of some guy scrolling through the top ten players on each team, which if nothing else gives a bored college football blogger something to write about. Since the ratings in NCAA often make little sense, I decided to take a stab at guessing Michigan's ten highest-rated players before hitting play (the game tends to reward seniority, which may explain some of my picks):
I also asked Brian to give his list:
Dr. Hamlet III
You're a great help, Brian.
Anyway, here's the great unveiling:
If you don't want to find the right time to pause the video (2:02 mark) and peruse the ratings yourself, here's what EA Sports came up with for Michigan:
LT #77 Taylor Lewan (96 overall)
Jeremy Gallon (90)
Devin Gardner (89)
Jake Ryan (89)
Matt Wile (88)
Frank Clark (88)
Brendan Gibbons (88)
Thomas Gordon (88)
Raymon Taylor (87)
Desmond Morgan (87)
I have no problem with the top four, especially with Lewan earning such a lofty rating (only two Alabama players are rated higher than 93, though both come in at 97 and their entire top ten is at least a 91). Punter Matt Wile—notable for being Not Will Hagerup, since the game includes just one of each specialist—lands at fifth, which is... strange, even though Wile has plenty of talent.
Then comes the big leap. Junior DE Frank Clark, with all of two career sacks, is clearly EA's choice for breakout player, granted a loftier ranking than several proven commodities. The Frank Clark Offseason Hype Machine has gone national, and frankly that makes me nervous. This is the same video game that rated redshirt sophomore safety Brandon Smith, who had mostly played on special teams, at 88 overall before the 2010 edition, only to see him transfer before the season started. Beware the Offseason Hype Machine.*
[EDIT: So... the video lists DE #97 as the team's sixth-best player, not DE #57. In my haste to say that EA took up the driver's seat on a player's offseason bandwagon, I named the wrong bandwagon: they're apparently quite enthused about Brennen Beyer, who... moved from WDE to SAM this offseason after Jake Ryan's injury and is projected to back up Cam Gordon. Okay, then.]
The rest of the list is justifiable, though I'd wager that Michigan's top cornerback and linebacker in the 2015 edition won't be Raymon Taylor and Desmond Morgan, respectively; Blake Countess gets dinged for coming off an ACL tear, while presumably EA used up their breakout spot on Clark instead of James Ross, who would've been my choice there.
A QUICK SCAN FOR RIDICULOUS RATINGS ON OTHER BIG TEN TEAMS REVEALS...
Nathan Scheelhaase is 89 overall, two better than Butkus Award semifinalist and potential first-round NFL draft pick Jonathan Brown. Yes, the same Nathan Scheelhaase who split snaps with Reilly O'Toole as a junior returning starter.
Indiana's best player is a white strong safety. Viva Hoosier Kovacs.
Iowa's third-best player is this guy, which... sounds about right, actually.
Denicos Allen is a very good player, don't get me wrong, but having him as a 95(!)—Michigan State's top player—over 91-overall Max Bullough, the unquestioned heart of that defense, is surprising.
Ra'Shede Hageman is Minnesota's highest-rated player at 88 overall and surely Brian's choice for most underrated player. The next-best Gophers come in at 83 overall, and players in the 70s crack the top ten. Woof.
Ameer Abdullah is not among Nebraska's top ten players, which makes me question if EA Sports bothered to watch so much as a second of the Huskers last season.
Unstoppable Throw-God Trevor Siemian is 85 overall, so clearly EA didn't catch last year's Michigan/Northwestern tilt.
Braxton Miller is a terrifying 96 overall and is better than many running backs at breaking tackles (81 rating). I hate that this is in no way ridiculous.
Penn State's Allen Robinson, the best receiver in the conference last year, merits just an 87 rating, which seems especially low given that unspectacular PSU running back Zach Zwinak is just behind him at 86.
Purdue right tackle Trevor Foy, who wasn't even All-B1G honorable mention last season, ranks at 92 overall, putting him at least five points higher than Michael Schofield. While I can't say I've watched Foy all that much, either EA knows something we don't or this is pretty bizarre.
None of Wisconsin's top ten players are offensive lineman, which does not pass my sanity check.
Not Big Ten, but it's worth noting that academically-ineligible Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson is in the game and, at 89 overall, is just as good as Devin Gardner.
Yeah, it's probably best not to take these things too seriously. The bigger issue here is finally ridding the game of post-route-intercepting middle linebackers, anyway; while I haven't seen that addressed specifically, EA does appear to be doing some coolstuff with Dynasty Mode, which is where I spend most of my time in the game.
*I'm not saying Clark won't be quite good, only that this level of hype, when contrasted with on-field production, involves a great deal of projection. Frank Clark could be a terrifying quarterback-killing machine or a backup before the season ends or anything in between, and we have no earthly clue where he'll land on that spectrum.
So, who else is excited about them getting rid of the need to spend half your time recruiting between games? Also, the RPG aspect of coaching seems pretty sweet, but it seems like it would encourage keeping your starters on the field late in the game unless, of course, they make taking your starters out worth more points.
I was reading about these last week and was going to post something, but I'm glad that I hesitated because now I don't have to take the negbang for it.
This is the main reason I'm going to buy this game (I used to buy them annually, but haven't bought one since NCAA '11). I spend most of my time in Dynasty mode, and the Dynasty mode had become irredeemably broken. It offered loads of complexity, but without much realism, so that either you needed to spend an hour recruiting between each game, or the AI would make some truly boneheaded recruiting decisions.
Who knows if NCAA '14 will be any more realistic on the recruiting front, but at least it seems like it will allow you to "set it and forget it" a little bit, so that you don't need to tell your coach EVERY SINGLE WEEK that he should probably spend a good chunk of time recruiting that 5-star QB.
I've mentioned this before, but Brennen Beyer isn't really projected to be Cam Gordon's backup. Beyer played over Gordon at SAM in 2011, and Beyer started at SAM over Gordon in the spring game. At no point has Gordon ever been ahead of Beyer on a depth chart.
Personally, I prefer Gordon and want him to win the job, but the coaches seem to disagree with me.
very ridiculous and silly that a white player would receive a high ranking, especially in the backfield. we all know these positions are reserved for superior black athletes, and any white starter is just holding the can until he can be replaced with a sigh of relief.