Strategy Guide
Changing your Strategy: Running the Football

When we were playing the game at the Community Day in Los Angeles, guys would literally chide each other - their opponent! - if they used speed burst, stiff arm, jukes or spins in a crowd. Put simply, you do not do this. That is the first, last, and many of the in between notes that you should be thinking about when you run the ball in NCAA 2008 on the next gen systems.

The second very important note is that with all of the additional ratings, the style of running back that you have will dictate - to a very, very large degree - how he performs. many of the "moves" now in the game aren't moves that you could perform in offense-only practice mode by pushing buttons. They require defenders around to do them, and they aren't predicated on a button push. They are rendered based on the type of running back you have, his abilities, the abilities of the would-be tackler, etc. and last but not least, how tired the players are.

Each back has his own spin move rating, stiff-arm rating, etc. but the important ones will be things like elusiveness, truck ratings, and break tackle ratings, which aren't based so much on the button pushes but simply will be based on the angles you're taking on the field in conjunction with the defensive players. As a quick example. One of the coolest moves I've seen yet was when I was headed just off tackle and a linebacker was there to tackle me. With the regular left stick and no speed burst, I simply shook slightly to the outside then to the inside of the linebacker just as he was about to tackle me, and the running back did a sick swim-like move past the defender that left him grasping for air. Again, it isn't so much about the main "moves" anymore, but the ability of your back and the your timing with the more subtle movements of the stick.

Defense now gets a much more fair shake in other ways - like movement off the line - where in other ways the defense faces more of a challenge. For instance, the running backs slip more tackles now than they did before. But at the same time, there are LOTS of times when you will simply get hammered in the backfield because your offensive line makes a mistake. Accordingly, you must go to the strengths of your team. Depending on the mode you're playing in and what team you have, you might want to try for big plays with a great running back. Personally, I'm going to just be trying to make forward progress at the snap of the ball. If there are missed blocks, I'm looking to get upfield and get the yard, or possibly just get back to the line of scrimmage. I haven't had a whole lot of success getting away and around, and spinning away from guys behind the line of scrimmage. Now, if I had a guy like Barry Sanders, then maybe I might try it more.

But what happens if you are a dynasty gamer, taking a 2-star team with a 75 OVR running back with no speed? Well, you can still do some great things with the running game. It's all about practice. Setting up your blocks is going to be key for a guy like that. The movement is very integrated and refined this time around. Sometimes you can lean one way, get the defense to overcommit, then shoot through a small gap elsewhere to pick up your yards. Hesitation will play a big role this time around. Patience will sometimes pay off, sometimes kill you.

All I can say is that it's a whole new game. And in this game, the players will be making the majority of the plays. You're there to aid and abet. You're not there to be the star, in many ways. If you have a well rounded but not fantastically talented running back similar to what can be found on 75% of the teams in the game, then your job is going to be to know his abilities, keep him from fumbling the ball, and hit the holes as best you can.

In that line of thought, if you have Texas A&M, then you should use the running back that caters more to your style. I'm a straight ahead charger. I like to get whatever yards are there, make maybe one cut. I don't spin and juke much. On the outside I'm more likely to be seen using the stiff arm, so HB #11 was more my style than HB #3. For other players, Goodson, I mean #3, might be the better bet if they like the waterbug approach.

In closing, it really is a whole new game out there. Both in the campus legend mode as a running back, and in any other game mode, you will be at the mercy of how your offensive line blocks against the defense. There aren't NEARLY as many stalemates now, so therefore you have to be ready to look for the guys that are defeating the defender and hope to minimize the runs for a loss. Mixing up the snap count, calling the occasional audible, and playing to the strengths of your runner are all keys to success in NCAA 2008 on next gen.

Till next time,