Well, with the news that EA Sports NCAA '14 will almost certainly be the last version of the game to feature NCAA-licensed stuff, it's a good time to follow up on our initial post on the game and talk about how the gameplay affects the players on the Syracuse Orange.
Dan Lyons has a copy of the game so I asked him to fill us in (Dan will have a more in-depth post on the gameplay soon):
What's the most striking change or addition to gameplay this season and who does that benefit most on Syracuse?
DL: The last NCAA game I spent a lot of time with was 2012, and the difference in the realism of player instincts and movement is pretty amazing. Running backs actually feel like they're reading their blockers, receivers make quick turns off of catches and are quick to explode upfield, linemen make intelligent downfield blocks. EA really did a great job of overhauling the player AI this year, and the game feels very real and intuitive. As we know, Syracuse is very run heavy this year, and I've really enjoyed trying to utilize Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley, George Morris, Adonis Ameen-Moore, and Ashton Broyld in different formations and situations. Smith and Ameen-Moore are especially fun to run between the tackles with, because they use their blockers well and plays aren't immediately blown up if a guard gets in the way like in years past.
How is the Syracuse offense portrayed in the game? How do they perform under the gameplay?
The SU offense looks to be pretty close to what we've had over the last few years. It's hard to tell how accurate the game will be to this upcoming season without seeing George McDonald's schemes in action, so I try to run a lot of hurry up when I play to simulate Nate Hackett's squad from last year. One of the things I appreciate about this year's game is that wide receiver speed and route running seems to be more emphasized. In years past, a small, quick receiver could be hard to get the ball to, but I've had a lot of fun throwing slants to Chris Clark and watching him burst down the field.
How about the defense? Any quick standouts? Surprised by how well or poorly some players are?
SU's defense is a somewhat small but fast unit once again, and it really starts at the linebacker spot, as you may imagine. Marquis Spruill, Dyshawn Davis, and Cam Lynch are three of the best players on the entire unit, and they can do a lot of damage. Spruill is a tackle machine at the middle linebacker position, especially against a run heavy-squad like Penn State in week one.