It is never too early to begin planning for your NCAA purchase and with the announcement of this year’s cover boy ringing in our ears and the Spring Game one week away I figured the time was right for a pre-preview of the upcoming NCAA Football 11.
This year’s cover athlete will be none other than Tim Tebow (Angel choir sings in background at just the mention of his name). He will be the cover athlete on all systems, unifying the title for the first time since 2008 when undrafted Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky received that honor. With this announcement, made this week by EA, Tebow has been making the rounds and this is what he had to say:
Best part of being cover athlete – “I've been playing this game since I was 6. But they made so many big changes this year, I needed to find out the secrets before it came out."
Reaction to yourself first time on a video game – “First thing I thought was, I'm faster than that. [laughs] I wanted to call some people and get my speed rating bumped up a little bit.”
Tebow’s burn on the rest of us in answer to how he likes playing himself – “To be honest, I don't actually play as Florida a lot. Even the last four years I haven't played as them too often because they're really good in the game and it's too much of an advantage for whoever is playing as them. Usually we pick lesser teams.” (I wish I had that same issue playing Michigan, but no one ever complains)
Weirdest combine question – “Whether I'd rather be the quarterback for their team or the governor of Florida”
Video game QB vs. the real thing – “You can always find those plays in every game that work for a touchdown or a big gain all the time and no matter what the defense tries, they can't stop you. Only downfall is sometimes you might cramp up a little on the thumbs.”
Madden 11 designer Donny Moore on Tebow’s upcoming stats – “"Tebow will be the best trucking quarterback in 'Madden' this year, He's not the most elusive, but in terms of breaking tackles and power, he will be able to put down his shoulder and run over a few defenders. A lot of this is fluid, but right now in 'Madden 11,' we have Tebow at 80 speed and 92 acceleration. Trucking, carrying the ball, like I said, he's going to be better than any quarterback coming into the league."
For those whose heart goes paddy pat at the mere mention of Tim Tebow here is the link to the full interview - http://espn.go.com/espn/page2/index?id=5073043
EA has released few details as of yet, but there is enough information out there to get excited about what we can expect:
Graphic Jump – First screen shots look so good that EA had to come out with a statement confirming that they in no way touched up the pics, and that they were indeed real in-game shots. You will also notice something that has been glaringly missing in the background. Pinstripes! That is right, referees are making a comeback in NCAA ’11.
Improved Realism – Ever complained that this year’s NCAA looks just like last years? That shouldn’t be the complaint this year. With linear lighting the feel and look of the fields and players should be a huge upgrade to Madden like quality. What does it mean? It means the game will now have shading dynamics based on the time of day. If it is night the skin, jerseys, and helmets will be shaded appropriately and in the day time have that spring fresh look to them. It is hard to put into words, but my hope is we get rid of that plastic, shiny, pasty player graphic, and the result is a more believable player look.
Locomotion – Can I get a Whoo Woooo! I am ready for this train to leave the station and excited to see its inclusion into the new NCAA. What it means in short is that 99 Acceleration now means as much as 99 Speed. If you noticed in years past it was all about running a straight line faster than the defender, (no an occasional zigzag to overcome a faster defender diving does not count). With the addition of locomotion NCAA will get the power of the burst. Players with fast acceleration will close on ball carriers and make tackles with their quick acceleration. Dynamic Short Yardage players ala Forcier against ND - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gDv0HMTJEY&feature=related, will be able to make the quick move to fool the over pursuing DE and then turn on the afterburners to outrun safeties.
Team Playbooks – How frustrating has it been playing NCAA for Michigan fan the last few years? 2 years ago we had a pro-style offense playbook, that didn’t resemble the product on the field in any way, and then last year we had 1 bubble screen and an option playbook that again didn’t resemble anything Michigan was running on the field. This year is supposed to be improved with Team specific playbooks that closely resemble the on the field product. Florida has been getting this for years, but finally the rest of us may have it.
Formation Subs – Remember back in the olden days, when the PS on your gaming platform had a 2 that followed it? There was this little feature that made football just plain better, where you could customize any formation including kick-off teams to maximize your team’s competitive edge. Well that is finally back after a long hiatus, and no team will benefit more than Michigan. That means you can set up Denard Robinson to come in automatically anytime you run the Ace-Big formation, or bring in Focier for the Shotgun formation. It means you can customize your DL to get Campbell and Martin on the field at the same time when you need run stoppage against the dive in a 3-3-5 set. It means good stuff.
NCAA Football 11 will be hitting the store July 13th. While it still seems too far away I know, the date has steadily been creeping earlier and earlier in the last few years. In fact EA has moved the release date earlier in July every year since 2007 when it released on July 18th. Maybe it only takes 364 days to make a new issue of NCAA hence the change.
I know that many of you, like myself, celebrate the release of NCAA like a national holiday. We work diligently in the months of July and August, while others haven’t even thought of cleaning out their coolers yet, as we put together “The Game Plan.” I’m not making any guarantees, but if the coaching staff would just glance at “The Game Plan” this year it might just make Michigan a surefire Three-Peat National Championship team. The plan works, and I can show you my NCAA trophy case if you don’t believe it. Keep playing, and I’ll see you online.