NCAA Football 2003 Defensive Specialist FAQ v1.0
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NCAA Football 2003 Defensive Specialist FAQ

by jeremy_w24   Updated to v1.0 on
-- NCAA Football 2003 for PS2 - Defensive Specialist FAQ --
-- by Jeremy Watson : e-mail: --
-- Version 1.0, 8/14/2002 --

How to Read this FAQ :
-->       Note of Interest
***       Absolute Must Read
<Q>       Most Asked Questions
<update>  Changes from the last version
<Tip #>   Must read! These tips will improve your defense (no matter what your
          skill level!)
\/\/\/\/  New Section

<Q> --> So what is in this FAQ? <--
This FAQ explains in detail how to play better defense for NCAA Football 2003. 
I try to avoid giving away moneys plays which will inflate your sack totals to 
10+ a game, but I will give you strategies to employ against your bitter 
college football rivals any try to answer some of the most common questions.


*** Defense in General on NCAA 2003 ***
The defensive AI engine for NCAA Football 2003 is much better than in the 
previous version of the game and better than the AI in Madden 2002. Stopping 
the other team's running game is much more important on this game and is also 
that much more difficult. Remember how the CPU's offense would only really run 
the ball if they were close or ahead and pretty much throw the ball all day if 
they were behind? This is no longer the case for 2003, teams will run the ball 
more and have effective ways to gain more yardage. Even with default sliders, 
you may see the CPU break more tackles and get better blocking.

Even though it will much more difficult to stop the run, pass defense is much 
easier to stop in 2003. You'll see that your DBs are in position to make the 
play much more and that your INTs will increase dramatically from last year's 
game. These changes make defense much easier to play, but also put a lot more 
strategy on you as the play caller.

*** General Tips ***
<Tip #1> *** Coaches Camera ***
The Coaches Camera is a new feature in NCAA 2003 which allows you to see in 
detail what your defense is supposed to do pre-snap. It helps so much in 
reading what coverage you should be in and who is blitzing. I recommend highly 
using this against the CPU every play just to make sure you know what you are 
doing. You can't really use this feature against a human opponent since you 
don't want them to see what you are doing on defense. After you've played a few 
games against the CPU, you'll pretty get used to what you are supposed to do in 
every defensive formation.

To use the Coaches Camera, press and hold the R2 pre-snap. The camera on the 
field will zoom out and show you what your defense is doing for that play. 
Tight man coverage is shown will red lines, rushers are shown with orange 
lines, and zones are shown with colored circles. In NCAA 2003 there is no 
longer an excuse for a blow coverage because of motion or a quick audible. The 
defense is smarter and knows what to do.

<Tip #2> *** Line Movement ***
Another pre-snap option in NCAA 2003 is line movement. You can move your 
defensive line, linebackers, and secondary pre-snap using button combinations 
before the snap. This can be difficult to manage since the offense could snap 
the ball at any time. The combinations for pre-snap movement are as follows:

Primary Button     Secondary Button     Movement

L1                 Left or Right        DL shifts left or right
L1                 Down                 DL pinches down inside
L1                 Up                   DL shifts to normal position
R1                 Left or Right        LBs shift left or right
R1                 Down                 LBs pinch down inside
R1                 Up                   LBs shift to normal position
Triangle           Left or Right        Secondary in normal coverage
Triangle           Down                 Secondary moves in for tight man
Triangle           Up                   Secondary moves back for deep zone

These pre-snap movements can be very effective in creating mismatches between 
your DL and the other team’s OL. A lot of times a blitzing LB will get blocked 
easily in a normal defensive set, but if you shift your DL left or right and 
move your LB to a pinched position, you might confuse the OL long enough to 
have him break through for a sack or run stop.

Experiment with these movements and find out what works best for your team. I 
will discuss what I found later on in the FAQ when I get to defensive 

<Q> --> Who should I control on defense? <--
Since this year’s AI is smarter as defending the pass, you would think is it 
better to control a pass rusher on defense in NCAA 2003. This is NOT the case! 
I have run many different combinations of defenses against all sorts of 
offensive formations and I found that the FS/SS or one of the LBs who is in 
coverage is the best option. Controlling a player in coverage gives you more 
freedom to make things happen on defense. The CPU always gets a better jump and 
rushes the passer much better on average than you would anyway. You’ll find 
yourself getting frustrated that you just can’t get to the QB in time before he 
throws anyway.

I personally have had the most success controlling the SS for most situations. 
I will go into more detail about this when I get to the formation section.

<Q> --> Does switching to a defender closest to the ball create more INTs? <--
I guess this really depends on your skill level. I would say on average, no. If 
the opposing team’s QB lofts the ball and you have plenty of time to switch to 
the defender and don’t have to make too many adjustments on the ball (in other 
words you only have to run straight in one direction to get there), I would say 
that you should switch and try to make a play on the ball by pressing triangle. 
Otherwise, just let the defender try to get close and switch only to make the 
tackle. You are going to have a lot more chances to get INTs in NCAA 2003, but 
you’ll see that you can still get burned if you make a bad read on the ball.

<Q> --> I can’t seem to get to the opposing team’s QB, what can I do? <--
After struggling many hours with this question, I have found the answer. It 
seems that many of you blitz a lot trying to increase your sack total and stop 
the CPU for a loss. The problem is, the CPU recognizes you are blitzing and 
throws the ball quickly thereby causing you frustration. Instead of blitzing 
every play, try mixing in a few coverage plays which are designed to cover 
everyone and force the QB to sit in the pocket for awhile. By mixing it up, 
you’ll see that you’ll get most of your sacks while in coverage type defenses.

<Q> --> Will the CPU recognize that I call the same D every play? <--
You might be wondering if the CPU reads your defense and burns you if you call 
the same defense every play. The answer to this is no, the CPU doesn’t 
recognize if you call the same defense every play, but then again, why would 
you want to call the same defense every play?

<Tip #3> *** Situational Substitutions ***
Using the Rosters menu under Options, you can fiddle with who plays and in what 
formation. This allows you to specialize your formations in the following way, 
say you want all run stoppers for your 4-4 defense. Select the 4-4 and change 
the players one by one. All of these settings are then saved when you leave 
this screen. Using situational substitutions does 2 things for you. The 1st is 
it allows you specialize your defensive formations for specific styles of 
defense. Say it is 3rd and 3, but you want your run stopping DE in the game. 
Well if you set up your 4-4 defense earlier, you can just call a 4-4 play and 
he’ll be in the game. This makes it easy to bring specialized players into the 
game without interrupting the flow of the game. The 2nd thing situational 
substitutions does for you is that it keeps your players fresh. Say you always 
run a Nickel defense on 1st down, but often switch to a 3-4 for 2nd and 3rd downs. 
The specialized players in your Nickel will be getting rest while the 3-4 is on 
the field.

I’ve found that most of the “back-ups” can be recruited in such a way so that 
they are super specialized. A LB with 75 speed for coverage or a 330 lb. DT for 
clogging the middle. Look for these guys when recruiting in the later weeks, 
you’ll be surprised how much they help your team.


*** Defensive Formations ***
Unlike Madden, NCAA 2003 includes the 4-4 and 5-2 type defensive schemes. 
However, the plays themselves haven’t changed at all from NCAA 2002. This section 
will chronicle each of the available defensive formations in NCAA 2003. A Big
formation is one with 2 TE or Goaline. A Normal formation is one with 2 WR, 1 RB,
1 FB, and a TE. A 3+ WR formation has 3 or more WRs and any combination of other

--> 3-4 (3 DL, 4 LB, 2 CB, FS, SS) <--
Strengths: Spreads out your defense, Flats and Sweeps, Covers the middle of the 
           field well.
Weakness:  Don't expect a decent pass rush without blitzing, Runs up the middle, 
           3+ WR sets could force a LB to cover a WR
Report Card - Overall: C+
vs run (Big):    C-                vs pass (Big):    B+         Big:    C
vs run (Normal): B-                vs pass (Normal): B-         Normal: B-
vs run (3+ WRs): B                 vs pass (3+ WRs): D          3+ WRs: C

--> 4-3 (4 DL, 3 LB, 2 CB, FS, SS) <--
Strengths: Up the middle runs and off tackle plays, Normal sets allows one 
           blitzer but still covers well
Weakness:  Flats and Option type runs, 3+ WR sets are much trouble
Report Card - Overall: B+
vs run (Big):    B                 vs pass (Big):    A          Big:    B+
vs run (Normal): A-                vs pass (Normal): A+         Normal: A
vs run (3+ WRs): A                 vs pass (3+ WRs): D-         3+ WRs: C

--> Nickel (4 DL, 2 LB, 3 CB, FS, SS) <--
Strengths: 3 & 4 WR sets, Option plays if you blitz, Deep passes out of a Normal
           formation. Allows double of both WRs while still covering well.
Weakness:  Screens and Draws, 5 WRs can be a problem still, Off tackle plays
Report Card - Overall: A-
vs run (Big):    B-                vs pass (Big):    B          Big:    B-
vs run (Normal): B                 vs pass (Normal): A          Normal: A-
vs run (3+ WRs): B-                vs pass (3+ WRs): A-         3+ WRs: A

--> Dime (4 DL, 1 LB, 4 CB, FS, SS) <--
Strengths: 4 & 5 WR sets, Deep passes out of a any formation. Allows double of 
           both WRs while still covering well.
Weakness:  Draws and any run, Watch for the QB to take off if you have everyone
           covered, Watch the 5th WR if you are covering him with your SS
Report Card - Overall: D+
vs run (Big):    F                 vs pass (Big):    D+         Big:    F
vs run (Normal): D-                vs pass (Normal): B-         Normal: C-
vs run (3+ WRs): C-                vs pass (3+ WRs): A+         3+ WRs: A-

--> 4-4 (4 DL, 4 LB, 2 CB, FS) <--
Strengths: Shuts down most runs, Screens and Flats, Big formations
Weakness:  3+ WR is deadly, Watch out if you opponent lines up a speedy TE,
           Playaction, Gives up the deep ball if the QB has time
Report Card - Overall: B-
vs run (Big):    A-                vs pass (Big):    B+         Big:    A-
vs run (Normal): A                 vs pass (Normal): C+         Normal: B
vs run (3+ WRs): A+                vs pass (3+ WRs): F          3+ WRs: C-

--> 5-2 (5 DL, 2 LB, 2 CB, FS, SS) <--
Strengths: Up the middle runs, Passes out of the Big formation
Weakness:  Screens and Flats, Sweeps and Option plays, 3+ WR sets are also a 
           problem, Watch out for the deep ball
Report Card - Overall: C
vs run (Big):    B                 vs pass (Big):    B+         Big:    B
vs run (Normal): C-                vs pass (Normal): C          Normal: C
vs run (3+ WRs): B                 vs pass (3+ WRs): D-         3+ WRs: C-

--> Goaline (5 DL, 3 LB, 2 CB, SS) <--
Strengths: Up the middle runs, Passes out of the Big formation, Off tackle 
Weakness:  3+ WRs is death, If your defense in pinched down Sweeps and 
           Option plays, If the QB has time Playaction
Report Card - Overall: B-
vs run (Big):    A+                vs pass (Big):    A          Big:    A+
vs run (Normal): A+                vs pass (Normal): B          Normal: B+
vs run (3+ WRs): A+                vs pass (3+ WRs): F          3+ WRs: D

<Tip #4> --> Special Teams <--
I won't do a report card for these plays, but I will say this... When 
returning a punt, pick the Punt Block play. You'll be surprised at how good
the blocking is compared to the Punt Return Normal play. Get ready to play
in the open field!

<Tip #5> *** Know your Coverage!!! ***
Don't be afraid to use the Coaches Camera (R2 pre-snap) to know what your 
coverage is. Keep in mind that your coverage might change if your opponent 
uses motion. As you get used to this, you'll be ready to take on other 
human players. Man-to-man coverage shows up as an X in the defensive 
playbook, which zone shows up as an line to the area of the zone. Pay close
attention to these indicators since they will allow you to run almost 
any defense with success.


*** Defensive Play Calling ***
I don't want to give any of my secrets out, but I figured for this FAQ to be 
complete I need to at least include some plays and how to use them effectively.
Only use these at your own risk and against the formations listed in ().

*** Running the 3-4 ***
If you love to blitz and you want your opponent to be confused as to which 
guys are blitzing, then you might want to perfect the 3-4 defense. Usually the
3 DL rush the QB allowing the 4th and 5th rushers to come from one of the 4 
LBs. It is best to run a 3-4 if you LBs are much better and consistently 
make more plays than your DL. Here are a few of my favorite 3-4 defenses:

--> 3-4 Double SE (vs Normal) <--
This defense gives you a little of everything. The other team's best WR is 
double covered, you have 1 extra LB blitzing, and there is a safety in a deep
zone. This play along with its counterpart in the 4-3 could be the single best 
improvement you can make to your defense. Most teams only have one goto WR, if 
you take him away and have a guy in a deep zone, you are good to stop the pass
out of the Normal formation. Control one of the MLBs and see who to cover using 
the Coaches Camera (R2). You'll probably be on the RB or FB. This allows you 
watch for this defenses weakness, the run up the middle.

--> 3-4 Man Press (vs Big and Normal) <--
This defense blitzes both OLBs leaving the MLBs to cover. I like to pinch down 
in this defense to help against the inside run. Watch where you shift your LBs 
though since a well placed sweep can kill you. Control the SS in this defense. 
Make sure you know your coverage (use the Coaches Camera R2) and come up to help 
your run defense. This defense brings 5 rushers and can be effective as a change 
of pace from the 3-4 Double SE.

--> 3-4 Double Outs (vs Normal) <--
This defense doubles both WRs with a CB and a safety on each. This leaves the 
middle of the field wide open and you can see this when your defender move out 
to cover. This is where you'll need good ILBs to protect against those middle 
runs. Control one of your MLB (try and get the one covering the TE) and look to 
help against runs to the strong side of the offense. It is difficult to stop the 
run with this defense and your opponent can see the double team right away. Be
careful when using this defense.

--> 3-4 QB Contain (vs Normal) <--
Are you having trouble defending the QB draws or does your opponent seem 
to always take off on you? This defense is designed to keep that scrambling 
QB in the pocket while still providing good coverage. It blitzes one OLB
and the DL runs stunts to form the pocket. This defense works as advertised,
but you still need to watch the middle of the field. Control one of the MLBs
to do this.

--> 3-4 Man Zone (vs Normal) <--
Except for up the middle runs, this defense works well against most runs.
With one blitzing OLB and a safety deep it kind of reminds me of a 4-3
Man Lock defense. But wait, that extra LB for covering the flats makes
this defense so much more. One of the best 3-4 defenses for a mixture of
pressure and coverage. Control one of the MLBs and stick to his assignment
(Use the Coaches Camera R2).

--> 3-4 Double TE (vs Normal) <--
While this defense is extra weak against the run because two of your 
defenders are usually occupied by the TE, it is very strong against the flats
and TE passes. I would rather use a 4-3 Double TE, but if your LBs are better,
you might want to try the 3-4 instead. Control the OLB who isn't blitzing and 
keep his coverage.

--> 3-4 Double Outs (vs Normal) <--
Super weak against the run and your opponent can tell since your safeties 
will move out into coverage pre-snap. It does give you double coverage on both 
WRs. Control a MLB to take away the TE and you have a very solid pass defense.
This defense is rather risky if you suspect a possible running play. If your
opponent is beating you through the air or is forced to throw, take away his 
WRs with this defense.

--> 3-4 Double Slot (vs Normal and 3WR) <--
I don't use this defense very often because I like to have at least 1 DB for 
every WR, but if you want to take away the screen, flat and slot WR passes
you might try this defense. You might also try this defense against sets 
where your opponent lines up 2 WR on the same side of the field. Keep in mind
that motion can cause problems for this defense.


*** Running the 4-3 ***
If you prefer to have 4 DL on every play and clog up the middle to take away
the other team's running game, then you should consider perfecting the 4-3. 
Good LBs are hard to find and DL are so much bigger and stronger on average 
than LBs. This allows you to slow down running plays up the middle. There 
really isn't anything sneaky about the 4-3, it is just a strength vs. strength
type defense. If you think you DL can out-muscle your opponent's OL, the go 
with the 4-3. Here are some of my favorite 4-3 defenses:

--> 4-3 Double SE (vs Normal) <--
The counterpart to its 3-4 brother, also doubles the other team's best WR and 
has an extra LB blitzing. There is one difference, since you now have 5 rushers,
there is going to be no safety deep. Don't worry though because you still have 
everyone covered. Control the safety who isn't doubling the WR (you can tell
who he is because he won't move out to cover the WR). He'll probably be covering 
the TE or FB, but use the Coaches Camera (R2) if you're not sure. Move this 
safety up closer to the line to help with the run. This defense works very well
against sets with 2 WRs on the same side. Try using some line movement to free 
up one of your 5 rushers. This defense might be the best kept secret in NCAA 
2003. You won't get burned using this defense. I've seen average players turn
into defensive monsters using it!

--> 4-3 Double TE (vs Big and Normal) <--
This defense is for those of you who are having trouble stopping the
opposing team's TE. Usually a LB and a safety are assigned to double the 
strong side TE. The opposite side LB is then assigned to blitz. Don't 
worry too much about motion, since your coverage will automatically adjust.
I suggest controlling the safety who is doubling the TE. This way you can
roll over your coverage if your LB does a good job. With this defense, both
the other team's WR are covered man to man. You should be aware of this no 
matter who you control.

--> 4-3 Double FL (vs Big and Normal) <--
This defense double the flanker or weak side WR. It is just like the 4-3 
Double SE defense except the weak side WR is doubled instead of the strong 
side WR. If you are a fan of double teaming WRs, this defense can be a 
welcome change of pace from the 4-3 Double SE. I suggest controlling the
opposite safety not involved in the double team. Usually your coverage 
assignment is the TE or FB (make sure using the Coaches Camera R2). This 
defense also works well against formations with 2 WRs on the same side.

--> 4-3 Cover 2 Man (vs Big and Normal) <--
If you are a fan of the "bend but don't break defense", this one is for 
you. There are no LBs blitzing and the 2 safeties are in deep zones. This
defense defends both the long and short pass well, but can leave you open 
to running plays since your safeties are dropping deep. Control the MLB in
order to protect against the run. I've found that if you mix this zone with
blitzes throughout the game, you'll end up with more sacks.

--> 4-3 Fire Man (vs Big and Normal) <--
The biggest blitzing 4-3 that I ever risk has 2 OLBs coming on the blitz. 
Watch where you shift your line and LBs because if you overpursue, you'll
lose your advantage. Keep in mind that you'll have man to man coverage 
everywhere so you'll need pressure to be successful. Control either the MLB
or your SS and make sure you follow his coverage (Coaches Camera R2).

--> 4-3 Crash Right/Left (vs Big and Normal) <--
This 4-3 is useful because of the stunts that your defensive line does. 
Crash Right makes your DL slant to the right and Crash Left does the 
opposite. You won't have to worry about the weak side because one OLB will
be coming on the blitz. The one bad thing about this defense is that you'll
be in man to man coverage. This defense is a great run stopper even against 
Goaline formations. Control the MLB and protect the middle of the field.


*** Running a Nickel ***
So you want an extra DB? Try using the Nickel defense. This is my personal
favorite since I can usually get pretty good DBs. This defense covers well 
and also spreads your players out nicely for blitzing possibilities. The
Nickel could be the only way to slow down those pesky Singleback 3 WR 
formations. Here are a few of my favorite Nickel defense and how to use
them effectively:

--> Nickel Inside Blitz (vs. Normal, 3WR, and 4WR) <--
By blizting both LBs, you are assured good pressure on the QB and stoppage
of runs up the middle. Not only do you get good pressure, but that extra 
DB assures that you have good coverage. Remember that everyone is in 
man-to-man coverage because of the blitz. Try shifting your LBs to the 
inside (R1 then down pre-snap), this will make it impossible for the OL
to pick up the blitz and someone is bound to break through. Watch the 
outside running plays by controlling the SS. Be sure to maintain his 
coverage if it isn't a run. Experiment with this defense and perfect your 
control of the SS. This is the best Nickel defense by far.

--> Nickel Cover 2 (vs. 3WR) <--
This zone type defense is a welcome break from all the blitzing packages
in the Nickel defense. Many times after blitzing 2-3 times in a row, this 
defense comes in handy and usually confuses the QB just enough to make a 
bad throw or take a sack. Control one of the LBs and follow his coverage.

--> Nickel Man Lock (vs. 3WR and 4WR) <--
This defense works similar to the Inside Blitz except one of your LBs will
be covering the RB or the TE. Also one of your safeties will be deep in 
coverage. I would use this defense in 8-15 yards to go situations. It 
protects against the run just enough to not allow 5+ yards and does well 
against the intermediate to long passes. Control the safety who is in 
man-to-man coverage.

--> Nickel Double Outs (vs Normal and 3WR) <--
This defense doubles both outside WRs with both a CB and a safety. The slot
WR is cover man-to-man by your extra DB. Your LBs are also in coverage. You 
should control one of the LBs (the one wiht the easiest coverage). Watch for
running plays since your safeties are both occupied and are no longer in the 
middle preventing a disaster run.

--> Nickel Double Slot (vs 3WR) <--
Like the 3-4 version excetp now you have that extra DB. This defense is 
actually more effective than the 3-4 Double Slot. I don't use this defense 
very often so I can't give you any tips on who to control.

--> Nickel QB Spy (vs Normal and 3WR) <--
Does that QB always seem to take of when have everyone covered? What this
defense does is puta "rover" LB on the QB at all times, this way if the QB
decides to runs, you'll have a LB in position to limit the gain to a minimal 
one. Control the safety who is in man-to-man coverage.

--> Nickel Strong Blitz (vs Normal and 3WR) <--
This defense can be a little bit risky at times, but I have found that it 
works wonders against an option type running team. If you shift your LBs to
the opposite side that the blitzing DB is coming from, you'll have a very
well positioned defense to stop the wishbone in its tracks. You can also 
use this defense to blitz against 3WR formations. Control the SS to help
with run support, make sure to stay in his coverage for pass plays.

--> Nickel Under 3 Strong (vs. Normal and 3WR) <--
For those of you who just love to mix zone coverage with blitzes. This zone
works very well. This zone is designed to cover the strong side of the field
which usually takes away anything on the side with the 3rd WR for 3WR 
formations. If you can't seem to get any sacks with your blitzes because the
QB always throws the ball too quickly, try running this zone and if your 
coverage is good enough, you'll probably end up with a sack. Depending on 
your skill level, I would control one of the DL if you have trouble covering
a zone, otherwise use one of the safeties.

--> Nickel 2 Man Robber (vs. Normal, 3WR, and 4WR) <--
Another decent zone type defense in the Nickel. Since both of your safeties 
are deep, they take away the deep ball. I would try using this defense when 
your opponent has 15+ yards to go. While this defense gives up 5-8 yards on
running plays and short pass plays, it does take away the deep pass plays
of 15+ yards. I just hate to get beat deep. Also this defense is a nice 
change of pace from all the blitzing defenses. Try taking control of one
of the LBs and take away the flats and screen possibilities.


*** Running a Dime ***
This is probably the toughest defense to execute in NCAA 2003. The reason
is that your opponent is bound to have soem guys open if you don't get 
pressure on the QB, however, if you blow a coverage or pick the wrong zone, 
you're looking at a big play for the offense. With NCAA 2003's beefed up
pass defense, it makes thing easier, but it is no walk in the park! Be 
prepared to still give up those miracle 3rd down and 20 pass plays every
now and then... Still here are my favorties:

--> Dime Man Lock (vs. 4WR and 5WR) <--
The most commonly used Dime and for good reason. There is one DB for every
WR in a 4WR formation. Your defense is spread out and the one LB stays in the 
middle to protect against a QB draw or a quick in route. I would control the 
safety who is not in a zone in this defense. The reasoning behind this is that
sometimes your opponent will come out with 5 WR, if this happens one of your
safeties with be man-to-man on the 5th WR. Well if he is on the wrong side of 
the field, you'll have a tough time defending this formation. Move him over 
there yourself pre-snap and run your coverage. At least you'll have a fighting

--> Dime Prevent (vs. 4WR and 5WR) <--
I usually only use this defense when my opponent has a 3rd down and 15+ yards
to go or when the game or half is winding down and my opponent is probably 
going to go for the hailmary pass. All of your DBs will drop deep giving up 
the short pass every time. Control one of the safeties and make sure that 
deep ball gets knocked down!

--> Dime Man Press (vs 3WR, 4WR, and 5WR) <--
With 2 extra blitzers (a LB and a DB), you might just get the pressure you 
need to make the QB throw a bad pass and get an INT. I don't like to usually
run this defense against 5 WR formations because of quick slants and outs, but
you can try it if you want to mix in a little blitz here and there. Control 
one of the safeties and make sure no one breaks it deep! If your opponent
snaps the ball and you count to 3 in coverage and haven't got the sack, 
chances are you gave up the big play.

--> Dime QB Spy (4WR and 5WR) <--
I just hate it when I have everyone covered perfectly and then the QB slips
out for a big gainer! Keep your only LB as a spy to protect against this. What
I do is control the LB and slide with the QB about 5 yards off the line of 
scrimmage, I count 1..2 and if no WR are in my area I go ahead and go after 
the QB. Believe it or not, this works well against both the CPU and human 

--> Dime Base Lock (4WR and 5WR) <--
Bring a DB on the blitz, but make sure your safety can handle the coverage.
I usually control the safety who is taking over the blitzing DB's coverage
in this defense. Shift your defensive line inside to allow more room for the 
blitzing DB to get into the backfield. I just love it when the DB slams into 
the unsuspecting QB and causes a fumble! Experiment with this Dime and see 
in what situations it works best.


*** Running a 4-4 ***
Need a little help stopping the run? Putting 8 men in the box with 4 DL and
4 LBs may be the solution. This defense is very risky, but puts a lot of 
pressure on your opponent. You can pretty much count on stopping the run for
3 or less yards, but it is the pass that is difficult to stop. There
aren't many defenses to choose from, but here are a few I like:

--> 4-4 Man Lock (vs Big and Normal) <--
The safest of the 4-4 defenses. It give you great run support while still 
doing a decent job in coverage. I like to control the onyl safety and defend 
against a possible big pass play. Keep in mind, as with all 4-4 defense, that
your guys are in man-to-man.

--> 4-4 QB Spy (vs Big and Normal) <--
This defense works well against option type formations. One of your LBs will
shadow the QB making it tough for the offense to use trickery. The coverage
for this defense is much weaker because of this, but you can still manage Big
and Normal formations. Control the safety and protect the deep zone.

--> 4-4 Man Zone (vs Big and Normal) <--
Yet another variation on a conservative 4-4 defense. Don't worry about the
run because you have plenty of guys up front. Control the safety to protect 
against getting burned.


*** Running a 5-2 ***
Maybe you'd rather get some extra run support and still have 2 safeties? The 
5-2 is your defense. With little options to choose from, I hardly ever use this
type of defense, but you might want to throw it in once in awhile to change 
things up.

--> 5-2 Man Lock (vs Big and Normal) <--
This defense plays a lot like the 4-3 Man Lock. Man-to-man coverage with
decent pressure. Control the safety who is in coverage to help support 
the run defense. Watch out for the TE and playaction.

--> 5-2 QB Spy (vs Big and Normal) <--
Works similar to a 4-4 QB Spy defense. The coverage is worse, but you can
take away option type plays. Control one of the safeties and play his 
coverage, you won't need to worry too much about the run in this defense.

--> 5-2 Tiger Zone (vs Big and Normal) <--
A interesting zone type defense that takes away the short, flat and screen
passes. You'll still need pressure because you are weak in deep coverage. 
Control one of the safeties and protect the deep zone. Watch for sneaky runs
up the middle.


*** Running a Goaline ***
The Goaline defense works very well against Big formations. Rely on strength
to win the battle against the run and quickness to has good pass coverage.
A good Goaline should stop a Big formation cold 90% of the time. Here's the 
plays you'll need to perfect:

--> Goaline Man Lock (vs Big) <--
My favorite Goaline, the coverage is man-to-man, but still decent because
you're going to get a lot of pressure. Expect to give up 1-2 yards on a quick
hand-off up the middle, but nothing to the outside. Control the SS and protect
against a pass to the #1 TE or and sweep around the corner.

--> Goaline Jam Middle (vs Big) <--
Know your opponent is going up the middle? Want to stuff the middle at all 
costs? This defense puts everyone in the middle and won't give any yards up 
the middle at all. You will give up major yards on a sweep or a quick pass 
though, so be careful. Control an interior DL to protect against the QB

--> Goaline Inside Man (vs Big) <--
This defense plays a lot like a Goaline Man Lock. Expect your rushers to 
straight up field so you won't have to pinch down to clog the middle. Control
the SS and protect against a pass to the #1 TE. you should be able to stop 
any running play for 1-2 yards tops.


*** Defensive Quick Charts ***
These charts are provided as a quick reference for picking defenses. A (+) 
means that the defense has an advantage and a (-) means the defense is at a 
disadvantage against the listed formation. An (n) means there is no advantage 
or disadvantage. A Normal set is 2 WRs, 1 RB, 1 FB, and 1 TE. A Big set is 
any formation with 2 TEs including the Goaline formation. A 3,4,or 5 WR set 
is any formation with 3,4, or 5 WRs. The chart also shows how many guys are 

3-4 Quick Chart
Defense                    Blitzers     Big    Normal   3WR     4WR     5WR
3-4 Double SE            3 DL + 1 OLB    -       ++      n       --     ---
3-4 Man Press            3 DL + 2 OLB    -       ++      -      ---     ---
3-4 QB Contain           3 DL + 1 OLB    -       ++      n       -      ---
3-4 Man Zone             3 DL + 1 OLB    -       ++      n       -      ---
3-4 Double TE            3 DL + 1 OLB    n       +       n      ---     ---
3-4 Wildcat              3 DL + 2 OLB    --      +       n      ---     ---
3-4 Double Outs              3 DL        --      ++      +      ---     ---
3-4 Inside Blitz         3 DL + 2 ILB    -       +       n       --     ---

4-3 Quick Chart
Defense                    Blitzers     Big    Normal   3WR     4WR     5WR
4-3 Double SE            4 DL + 1 OLB    +      +++      +       --     ---
4-3 Double TE            4 DL + 1 OLB    +       ++      n      ---     ---
4-3 Double FL            4 DL + 1 OLB    +       ++      n       --     ---
4-3 Cover Man                4 DL        n       ++      +       --     ---
4-3 Fire Man             4 DL + 2 OLB    ++      ++      +      ---     ---
4-3 Man Zone             4 DL + 1 OLB    +       ++      n       --     ---
4-3 Crash Left           4 DL + 1 OLB    ++      ++      n       --     ---
4-3 Crash Right          4 DL + 1 OLB    ++      ++      n       --     ---

Nickel Quick Chart
Defense                    Blitzers     Big    Normal   3WR     4WR     5WR
Nickel Inside Blitz      4 DL + 2 LB     +       +      +++      +       -
Nickel Cover 2               4 DL        -       n      +++      +       --
Nickel Man Lock          4 DL + 1 LB     n       +      +++      ++      --
Nickel Double Outs           4 DL        --      ++     +++      +      ---
Nickel Double Slot           4 DL        --      n       ++      +      ---
Nickel QB Spy                4 DL        --      n       ++      ++      --
Nickel Strong Blitz      4 DL + 2 DB     n       ++      ++      n      ---
Nickel Under 3 Strong        4 DL        --      -      +++      +       --
Nickel 2 Man Robber      3 DL + 1 LB     n       n       ++      +       --

Dime Quick Chart
Defense                    Blitzers     Big    Normal   3WR     4WR     5WR
Dime Man Lock                4 DL       ---      --      ++     +++     +++
Dime Prevent                 4 DL       ---     ---      --      -      +++
Dime Man Press           4 DL + 2 DB    ---      -       n      +++      ++
Dime QB Spy                  4 DL       ---     ---      -      +++     +++
Dime Base Lock           4 DL + 1 DB    ---     ---      +      +++      ++

4-4 Quick Chart
Defense                    Blitzers     Big    Normal   3WR     4WR     5WR
4-4 Man Lock             4 DL + 1 OLB    ++      ++      --     ---     ---
4-4 QB Spy               4 DL + 1 OLB    ++      +       --     ---     ---
4-4 Man Zone                 4 DL        ++      ++      -      ---     ---

5-2 Quick Chart
Defense                    Blitzers     Big    Normal   3WR     4WR     5WR
5-2 Man Lock                 5 DL        ++      +       --     ---     ---
5-2 QB Spy                   5 DL        ++      ++      --     ---     ---
5-2 Tiger Zone           4 DL + 1 LB     +       ++      -      ---     ---

Goaline Quick Chart
Defense                    Blitzers     Big    Normal   3WR     4WR     5WR
Goaline Man Lock             6 DL       +++     +++      -      ---     ---
Goaline Jam Middle       6 DL + 3 DB    +++     ---     ---     ---     ---
Goaline Inside Man       6 DL + 2 DB    +++      --     ---     ---     ---


*** Recruiting a Defensive Team ***
Since recruiting only matters on who wants to come to your school and is not 
based on draft picks like the pros, I will focus on what you need to get as 
a team. 

DE : Defensive Ends (3-4 players)
Try to recruit guys with <5.0 sec 40 times. Tall guys 6'4'' or taller with
a weight of 260+. Most likely you want pass rushers, unless you get a 5 star
"blue chip" DE who is a run stopper. If your guy benches 400+ and squats 500+,
you've got one of the best DE I've seen. Some of my best DEs are a little bit
weaker 340-380 lbs bench 450+ squat, but have the speed to make up for it.

DT : Defensive Tackles (4 players)
Get the biggest, strongest guy you can get. 500+ lbs squat is a great and I
would say no less than 300 lbs weight. Forget speed for these guys, they should
be pure run stoppers intent on clogging the middle especially if you like to 
run a 4-3 or Nickel defense like I do.

OLB : Outside Linebackers (2 ROLB + 2 LOLB)
4.7 sec 40 times at least and a high GPA are important. You want your OLBs to
be balanced in tackling and speed so they can react to any situation. Speed is
important both in blitzing and stopping those sweep and option type plays.
Don't be afraid to go overboard when recruiting OLBs and ILBs since they 
also play well on special teams.

ILB : Inside Linebackers (4 ILB)
Yes you should have 4 ILBs on your team at all times. Get one very speedy
ILB with great hands. (4.5 sec 40 if you can find one) He will be great in 
Dime situations and on special teams. Get another ILB who is strong almost 
400 lbs bench and has a decent GPA (3.0+). Put him into your Goaline 
situations. Your normal ILBs should be a balance of strength and speed 
(4.8 sec 40 and 300-340 lbs. bench with 400+ squat). GPA is ultra important 
for your 2 balanced ILBs, don't recruit guys with less than a 3.2 GPA. These 
ILBs, you can use for Nickel, 4-3, and 3-4 situations. ILB is the most 
important position on your defense and having specialized guys to back up 
your starters is a great idea.

CB : Cornerbacks (5 players)
You should have at least 5 CBs on your team. Nickel and Dime defenses are
greatly improved if you have a deep bench at the CB position. I rarely 
recruit a CB who is shorter than 6'0''. Think about the long pass and 
height advantages. Sure there might be a 5'7'' with blazing speed and 
great hands, but he'll just get man-handled by the bigger WRs. Less than
4.5 sec 40 times are necessary for a great CB along with good hands 
(if you can get a player like this)! If you like to blitz out of the 
Nickel, you might consider recruiting a CB who is a hard-hitter. Strong
CBs can jar the ball loose from WRs also, even though they might not 
be able to stop the pass from getting there.

FS : Free Safety (2 players)
A good balanced player is what you are looking for here. Less than 4.6 sec
40 time, 3.0+ GPA, 300+ lbs. bench, 6'1'' or taller, and good hands. If you 
can get all this, go for it. Make sure you at least meet the speed and GPA
requirements you want.

SS : Strong Safety (1-2 players)
Since I control the SS most of the time I don't care about his GPA as much.
Instead I want decent speed, less than 4.7 sec 40 should do. Tackling 
ability is the biggest thing I look for. This translates to strength, 300+
lbs. bench and 350+ lbs. squat. I also look for height, 6'1'' to 6'4'' so
that I can bat away those deep passes. Your skills for controlling the
SS should make up for the weakness in awareness (GPA) and speed.

This makes the total for defensive players 25, leaving you 30 spots open
for other players. This should be more than enough to make a good team.
25 Defense   : 4 DE, 4 DT, 4 OLB, 4 ILB, 5 CB, 2 FS, 2 SS
28 Offensive : 3 QB, 4 RB, 2 FB, 6 WR, 2 TE, 11 OL (4 G, 4 T, 2 C + 1)
2 Special    : 1 K, 1 P