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Depth Charts

The depth chart settings let you determine who will be on the field in normal situations, and where they line up. This is probably the first thing you should do as a coach -- determine your starters and your reserves.

To set your depth charts, click on the button for the appropriate position and put players in order from starters to reserves to players you never want to see used (i.e. college redshirts). Keep in mind the variety of formations you plan to use; if you will alternate between 2-WR and 3-WR sets, your #3 WR will serve as both the backup in the 2-WR set and the third starter in the 3-WR set.

In addition to setting the player order, you will have some backups that deserve more playing time than others. This can be specified with the bench usage settings. "Least" means the reserve will see little action, while "most" should have him on the field as much as the starter.

Finally, you can choose what side of the field your players are on. This can have a variety of uses -- too many to describe in this brief help file. For most positions, your choices are no preference, top man strong/weak, and rested man strong/weak. Selecting "top man" means the #1 player on the depth chart or his replacement. Selecting "rested man" means the player most effective at that time. Normally this means the #1 player, or the #2 player if #1 is sitting out. A few notes:

  • For FBs, the options are blocker and runner instead of strong and weak; this is because the only 2-FB set is the power I, in which a blocking back lines up to the strong side of the normal fullback.
  • For CBs, options are "on key WR" and "opposite key WR". This allows you to put your better coverage on the better receiver, regardless of if he is lined up strong or weak. Thus, you will nearly always want "top man on key WR" or "rested man on key WR". The exception is double-1 defense, where the sides are flipped, which normally assigns your better corner on the opponent's weaker receiver while the key receiver is doubled. Note that if the specified receiver is in the slot or not on the field, your CB lineup will be selected at random.
  • The weakside tackle guards the QB's blind side; it is recommended to put your better player on that side.


Player Options

In addition to the options described above, there are specific assignments you can give your players. The first are "situational specialists" -- players you want to make starters in certain situations. An example is a pass-catching tailback, who might be your long-yardage specialist. A specialist will be moved up the depth chart when the situation comes into play, but only up enough to be a starter. (In other words, if you have a 3-WR formation and one long-yardage specialist WR, he will be moved up to #3 on the depth chart for that play.) Place kickers can be given short and long specialist settings as well. A "short" specialist kicks field goals (more than one can be defined and the sim will pick the best for the distance); a "long" specialist handles kickoff duties. Note that all specialist settings are ignored during game scrimmages.

You also must choose one punt returner and two kickoff returners. The primary kickoff returner will get the ball more often than the secondary one, but the ratio depends on the kicker's accuracy.

In college, you are allowed to designate players as redshirts. A redshirted player will not play in a regular game (he can play in scrimmages or exhibitions), but will gain an extra year of elibility. A player cannot redshirt if he is a junior or senior or has already redshirted a previous year.

In the pro game, you can assign a captain and an assitant captain. These settings are primarily for show in football.


Coaching Options

The coaching option screen lets you set general preferences for your team. They are broken into three categories: offense/defense, special teams, and training.

Offense options are aggression, kneel on ball, attempt fourth-down conversions, attempt two-point conversions, and spike the ball (clock management). The lone defense option is aggression. Two more general options are when to bring in the reserves in a blowout win or loss.

Most of these are self-explanatory, and settings can be anywhere from least or never to most. Note that aggression is a tradeoff between increased effectiveness and increased tendency to commit penalties. A blowout is defined as a lead of 21 points + X points per minute, where X ranges from 1 to 2.5 depending on your blowout settings. Also note that setting "kneel on ball" to most will allow your team to kneel when there is a lead of over eight points, punt the ball away, and then (assuming no onside kick) be able to kneel the ball on an ensuing possession.

Special teams options are low-odds field goals, onside kicks, fake punts/field goals/PATs, and run on fake. Again, most of these are self-explanatory; they merely affect the likelihood that you will attempt any of these actions. The field goal setting determines the threshold where you will attempt a field goal; in general "least" means you will only attempt field goals is the odds are 85% or better, while "most" means 30% or better.

A final option in the situation settings is game training. Game training gives your players temporary ability boosts (for the game only); you can divide up to ten training points between pass and run offense and defense, conditioning, and films. Points are counted separately for offense and defense. Be adivsed that the more points used, the more fatigued your players start the game.


Offensive Plays

The offense play control screen allows you to set situation-specific coaching orders and the playbooks to be used in each situation. Options you can choose are as follows:

  • Usage: how much the situation is used (not specified for "normal").
  • Play Alteration: how much players can change the play based on the defense. On passes, this affects the likelihood of the QB using his second or third receivers; on rushes it affects the likelihood of the runner bouncing to a different hole. Note that having more alteration allowed increases the odds of a poor decision.
  • Playcall Alteration: how much your playcalling can change during the game based on what has or hasn't worked. Maximum means that your playcalling will be 2/3 based on the results of past plays.
  • FB Runs: fraction of runs that should be made by the fullback.
  • Middle Runs: fraction of runs up the middle.
  • TE and RB Passes: the odds of a TE or RB being the primary receiver, as opposed to a WR.
  • Long Passes: the fraction of passes where the primary receiver goes long; this also affects the short vs. medium pass ratio.
  • Draws: the fraction of pass-like plays (passes plus draws) that are draws.
  • Misdirections, Reverses, and Options: the fraction of run-like run plays that are each of those types.
  • Play-Action Passes: the fraction of run-like plays (runs plus play-action passes) that are play-action passes.
  • Screens: the fraction of pass-like pass plays that are screens.
  • QB Rollout: the fraction of normal passes in which the QB rolls out.
    Most of these options are specified in terms of the base amount, plus or minus some alteration based on game situation.

    Below the options is your current playbook for the situation. Each entry in the playbook includes the following information:

    • Package number and name.
    • frequency of use. "Most" is 5 times the frequency of "least", though you can select modifications to these values based on whether you are leading or traling.
    • rush fraction. Fraction of running plays that will be called from that package; again this can be altered depending on the game situation.

    There are several play packages you can use, each a set of plays from a common formation. Advanced coaches may wish to edit those default packages or define their own from scratch; this is described in the advanced topics page.

    On the other end of the spectrum, you can forgo playbook specification altogether, using automatically-generated playbooks. This button is at the bottom of the offensive playbook screen; you will be asked to select the base formation and a playbook will be generated for you.


    Defensive Plays

    The defense play control screen allows you to set situation-specific coaching orders and the playbooks to be used in each situation. Options you can choose are as follows:

  • Usage: how much the situation is used (not specified for "normal"). On defense, an additional usage option is "mirror offense"; this will bring in this situation when the offense is using it.
  • Playcall Alteration: how much your playcalling can change during the game based on what has or hasn't worked. Maximum means that your playcalling will be 1/3 based on the results of past plays.
  • Key: whether you will be expecting run, pass, neutral, or "best guess". Note that this affects not only your on-field performance, but also the run/pass alterations in playcalling.
  • Zone: amount of the time you want to use zone defense.
  • Blitzes: amount of the time you want to blitz.
  • Stunts: amount of the time you want to use line stunts.
    Most of these options are specified in terms of the base amount, plus or minus some alteration based on game situation and plus or minus some other alteration based on if you are expecting run or pass.

    Below the options is your current defensive playbook for the situation. Each entry in the playbook includes the following information:

    • Package number and name.
    • frequency of use. "Most" is 5 times the frequency of "least", though you can select modifications to these values based on whether you are leading or traling and also based on whether you are expecting run or pass.
    • WR Usage. To allow defensive packages to mirror the offense, you can choose the number of WRs each package is allowed to face.

    There are several play packages you can use, each a set of plays from a common formation. Advanced coaches may wish to edith those default packages or define their own from scratch; this is described in the advanced topics page.

    On the other end of the spectrum, you can forgo playbook specification altogether, using automatically-generated playbooks. This button is at the bottom of the offensive playbook screen; you will be asked to select the base formation and a playbook will be generated for you.


    Matchups

    To prepare for a specific opponent, you can specify two sets of matchups. First is the wide receiver to key when you are playing defense. The key WR determines the CB alignment; you should choose the opponent's most dangerous wide receiver. If the order of his wide receivers is sufficiently similar to the order of their quality (for most teams, this is true), you can simply select "top on depth chart" to key the top opposing WR on the field for that play. Finally, if you really want your CBs on the strong/weak side as specified, you can "key" whatever WR is on the strong side.

    The second matchup is defensive linemen to double-team when possible. You can choose zero, one, or two. The danger of using this command is that it will draw attention away from other defenders; thus you should only use this if one or two opposing linemen are much better than the rest.


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