Madden Editorials play_e_OregonOption01jr_576

Published on April 4th, 2013 | by Shopmaster


How About Defending the Spread Option in Madden NFL 25 and NCAA 14?

The really cool thing about the NCAA Football 14 News that has surfaced over the last couple of days is that what you see may be something that you’ll see in Madden NFL 25.  Sometimes that’s not the case but in an instance such as Game-play where there is a Central Game-play Team it’s hard to imagine that they would build the core game-play of the two games (Madden and NCAA) that much different from each other.  I’m not going to talk about the NCAA Football 14 Trailer that showed off the running game with the new Infinity Engine, or the NCAA Ultimate Team news, but instead focus this article on a piece of what Jon Robinson of ESPN talked about in his ‘NCAA Football 14: A First Look Preview’ article – “New Improved Spread Option” . 

Jon talked about the revamped option game in NCAA Football 14 and noted that if you don’t know how to run the option that EA is willing to teach you.  What EA has done to help players running this popular form of offense; according to the article, is place icons over the head of the defender that you are supposed to read.

Here is what Larry Richart (Central Game-play Designer) had to say about the option game this year in NCAA Football 14:

“We’ve gone crazy overboard revamping the option game this year…  There are 31 different option types in our game now, which include all the different veer options, shotgun full triple options, shovel options, the Pistol … any type of option play you can think of. We want to teach the user what they should be doing, because if you don’t know how to run the option, it can be complicated, it can be scary, and in years past, calling these plays, a lot of people didn’t know when to pitch, they didn’t know when to keep it, so now you’re going to see the defender you’re supposed to be looking at, and depending on what he does, you’ll either pitch it or keep it. The guys you’ll need to read will be indicated, and you’ll know the order you’ll need to look at them. We’ve even added new animations to the defense where you’ll see the defender shoot out or attacking the quarterback right away, so you’ll know right away what he’s doing in order to make the right play.” – Larry Richart; central game-play designer on NCAA Football 14

The article goes on to say that a #1 will be over the heads of linebackers that you need to read first and then a defensive back will be the second read you’d have to make on the play if the linebacker is being blocked.  I like that EA is going to try to teach players how to read the defense in order to execute an option play.  The indicators over the heads of the defender that you need to read is OK in my opinion.  I mean it’s a teaching tool and the new animations where the defender is shooting out to attack the QB or staying out wide to take away the RB is great as well.  My issue; not really an issue because I haven’t seen it first hand, but more my question is the randomness of what that defender will do while I’m playing defense.

We all know that you can’t control everyone at once on either side of the ball.  Manually controlling that read defender I will be able to disrupt that option, where maybe I’ll first attack the QB with one step as a fake and then go for the RB in anticipation that he’ll pitch the ball.  Here is where I think there will be a problem and where I think there needs to be a solution.  Everyone and their momma will be running this new “Spread Option” playbook.  You see that now, teams that don’t have the personnel will run it, just to be running it.  Let’s take a team like Oregon, they have speed and athletes everywhere including at the QB position.  It makes perfect sense that they would run the “Spread Option” and the 31 other option types in NCAA Football 14, but not a team like Alabama.  While they have great running backs their QB is not a “Spread Option” QB, but what is going to stop a person from trying to run it with Alabama.  I mean they have enough talent at the RB position that if an OLB commits to the QB, he just made the wrong choice.  There needs to be a mechanism, an audible, hot route,  something that I can tell my defense to not go for the QB on the Spread Option, take away the RB every time.  We all know that sometimes when EA creates a new feature, that it is sometimes overpowered (Total Control Passing last year) and can cause players to take advantage of that feature no matter what team that player plays with.

I also firmly believe that with the Pistol formation invading the NFL last year with teams like Washington, Seattle, SanFran and others, there will be more emphasis on getting Pistol plays and read options into the game.  With that said, again there needs to be a way to take out the QB or the RB at will and not leave it up to the randomness of the AI.  Perfect example would be in the Super Bowl where the Ravens decided that they were not going to let Kaepernick run the ball and take their chances with Frank Gore getting the ball on the Shotgun Read plays.  I understand that the option and the read plays are different but at the same time you are reading a defender and basically giving to the guy he doesn’t go after a chance to make a big play.  Again, everybody is going to try to run this offense like they did with the Panthers playbook last year and try to incorporate it into their scheme.  What I don’t want to see is someone choosing a team like the Patriots and because the team is running the option plays my linebacker going for Brady; who is no threat to run, and leaving Jeff Demps out on the edge with nothing but space in front of him.  Also, maybe I want the RB to run like in the Super Bowl because the QB is a more dangerous threat than the RB.  How will the AI figure out who is the biggest threat and if my scheme is to always hit the QB (ala Suggs in the SB vs. Kaepernick), how can I get that?  I don’t know.

 I feel the best option is to use what NCAA Football does as far as game-planning and set ‘defending the option’ to QB, RB, or Auto. This way you can change it up play to play or set it at the beginning of the game and leave it and change it if you need to.  This would require the Madden team to put in a whole new visual set of presentation.  It should be easy to accomplish this in NCAA Football since they already have game-planning and maybe it’s already there in NCAA Football but as something else.  Now that I think about it there is a way to game-plan for the option but I think it just asks if you want to be aggressive against it,  I’m not sure if there is an option to take the QB out every play and that’s what I’m looking for.  I think that is the best option right now.  Downside of doing it via a screen is in a H2H game your opponent would see what you are setting it to.

Another idea I had add was to make the QB Spy on option plays always go for the QB.  So that OLB that has a #1 on his head would always go for the QB if he was in a QB Spy.  This method though has the potential to be exploited and you would have to hot route your OLB every time when you come out of the huddle.

I know there are other ways to stop the read option by bringing safeties down into the box, blitzing corners, etc., but I feel (just my opinion) there needs to be something else.  Something that even novice users can execute without a lot of trouble.

As any tips guy would tell EA, if you teach them how to run the option, you need to teach them how to defend the option.

So do you agree with me? If you have any ideas on how EA can implement something on the defense to help stop the option plays that I feel we’ll see a lot of this year in both games comment below.

Also make sure you check out my friends over at for all of your NCAA Football 14 Information.

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About the Author

Shopmaster is a die-hard hardcore Madden Player. He also serves an EA SPORTS Game Changer that provides the community with help and information regarding Madden.

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  • Trick13

    Agreed, defense needs to have the options you mentioned, I believe NCAA has aggressive setting that keys the qb for option play, would love to see that whole system of adjustments come over into Madden…

  • Classic Madden GOD

    some of those adjustments for ncaa are cool but the ones like jump snap and stuff like that needs to go…i do like the idea of the options keys tho..since the option is becoming a big deal the defense needs to have ways to stop it as well

  • infemous

    great post and very necessary! this has been something needed for a while.

    i am hoping to see adaptive AI in next gen Madden to alleviate this issue.

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