NCAA Football 2010 Review

I picked this up the afternoon it came out (this past Tuesday for the non obsessed).  I have to admit that I wasn’t as excited for this year’s version as I had been in the past.  I wasn’t even planning on buying it Monday afternoon, but then I hopped online to see what people’s impressions were.

To my surprise, a lot of people seemed to really like the changes. No one even had posted their extended descent into madness and meditated as to why they always drop $60 when nothing ever changes and everything is wrong in the world and what is the point of it all anyway?  Well, considering I’ve been buying this game since 2002 came, it didn’t take too much to convince me to get it.

So I ran out, picked up and threw it in the XBox360 (Paul VBlue is my gamertag in case anyone cares). My friend came over and we did an exhibition on Heisman difficulty between a couple ACC teams (I can’t quite remember at this point).

I could have really done without the marching bands at the beginning of the game. I doubt any band is actually going to form the EA Sports logo. Once we got into the game play I started to notice the differences right away.  The movements are all much smoother and more realistic feeling. While there are some animations that don’t always quite work, most of the gameplay looks and feels very good.  A big change is your QB’s throws as he’s being hit. My offense in 2009 involved sitting in the pocket, stepping up and launching a perfect pass 40 yards downfield just before getting leveled. Try to do that in 2010 and it barely gets to the offensive line. More realistic, sure, but a little tough for me to get used to. Another thing is that the CPU defense actually takes rational pursuit angles that you can’t throw off with a wiggle of the control stick. I could shake almost any defender just by running slightly towards the post and then cutting hard to the sideline.

The defenses are pretty similar, but your defensive AI doesn’t seem quite as incompetent as last year and you can even get a bit of a pass rush at times (!). I freely admit that I generally SuperSim (best feature ever) the defense, so I may not be the best judge.

The game was going fairly well until midway through the third quarter. The game just up and froze. Alright, maybe this is a bad sign, but it happens right? It could just be a freak chance.

We restart the XBox and start the Michigan dynasty. I try to download rosters, but unfortunately, EA shipped beta rosters with the retail version of the game, so the standard people who get the game 2 weeks early weren’t able to put together rosters by the release day, and there likely won’t be a complete one for another few weeks or so.  We decided to just with number, since HB #4 seems more like Minor than have him be called Darius Simmons or something.

First thing I saw when we got started was “Add a new pipeline state.” This is new so I click it, and apparently you can now buy “Dynasty Accelerators” which give you benefits in recruiting and whatnot. These cost points/money. Will people actually buy these? I hope none of you do. I mean, really. Just don’t do it.

Anyway, I like the new recruiting lay out (grid vs. list is generally a good UI choice if you have quite a few options). You can also numerically and graphically see how much your pitch is affecting a recruit which is nice. I always got frustrated when it would take 90 minutes to pitch a guy and you really don’t know if it’s doing anything.  Besides that and the new lay out, recruiting seems fairly similar to last year.

The last big, new thing is the inclusion of Erin Andrews.  I started a Road to Glory, but got bored pretty quickly, since it’s just a repackaged Campus Legend mode (which I knew, but was hopeful for something more). The injury reports, which happen with much more frequently*, are a nice break to the standard Nessler, Corso, Herbstreet booth, and aren’t even quite as generic as I would have thought.

Overall, I really enjoy most of the changes made to the game. The more aesthetic things (marching band, 3d “dorm room” in RtG, etc.) I could have lived without, but overall, they fixed a lot of things that were really annoying, and the game play is much, much better.

The bad parts:

  • The menus are slow – I move really quickly in the play selection menu, but  sometimes it doesn’t load a submenu by the time I try to select something.
  • No full rosters – It seems really weird to me that a mistake that huge could make it through, but it is EA. You can get the updated rosters here.
  • The game crashes all the damn time – This is the big one. I tried loading it to my HDD, I’ve wiped the disc, but no matter what I do, it will usually end up freezing before I decide I want to turn it off. This has caused some annoyances and lost data, and I have to assume there’ll be a patch for it, but for right now it just really makes me want to write EA strongly worded letter. They get so much right in the gameplay, but a lot of the time I can’t even get to it.

I’m sure the more I play, I’ll find things that are annoying, but it’s definitely one of the best versions I’ve played in a while. Hopefully, EA will add some patches to make this game as good as it can be. What do you guys think?

*4 games into the 2009 and my QB #5 has been knocked out of the game on 3 separate occasions.

Posted under Media, Misc.

TV Times, Channels for First 3 Weeks

The Big Ten has announced times for the first three weeks of its teams’ seasons, and an additional one. Michigan’s games are as follows:

September 5 v. Western Michigan. 3:30, ABC.
September 12 v. Notre Dame. 3:30, ABC.
September 19 v. Eastern Michigan. 12, BTN.
October 31 @ Illinois 3:30 (2:30 local) ABC.

On top of that, we already know that the Iowa game will be played under the lights in Kinnick on ABC or ESPN.

Somewhat surprising that the Western game made it onto ABC, but I guess the network executives are expecting a pretty good game. The Notre Dame and Eastern times/channels are no-brainers.

I believe BTN rule is that each team must appear on the network 3 time during the season, with at least one of the appearances being a conference game. That leaves two games remaining in Michigan’s schedule that will be headed for BTN. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Indiana game, already announced to be played at noon, ends up there, especially if the Hoosiers are as bad as everyone (including me) predicts, and Michigan struggles to start the year.

That leaves (at least) one more game to be sent to the Big Ten Network, and Delaware State is a no-brainer for that one. If Purdue is as terrible as it appears they will be, the contest against the Boilermakers is likely to be sent there as well. Still, in a year that Michigan is expected to go through some growing pains, having 3 games already announced to be on ABC, another one (Iowa) likely, and Ohio State a mortal lock to be on netowrk is a pretty good accomplishment.

Posted under Football, Media

Michigan v. Texas, 6PM ET

MCLA Lacrosse National Tournament. 1st Round.

You can review my preview here.

Pump-up video, via MFlowBlue, covers the CCLA tournament championship:

CCLA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament from Wes McGowan on Vimeo.

CoverItLive (no, I’m serious) will include the UMichLacrosse Twitter feed, which will be able to give some play-by-play and scoring updates. I’ll be in and out a bit, but if you participate, please try to keep this particular chat on-topic (that can include asking questions of me if you have no idea what the hell certain things are). We can talk about other sports some other time. The chat will start around 5:45, the game starts at 6, and should last about 2 hours.

Posted under Other Sports, Video

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Free Press FAIL

I’m not going to pin this on Mark Snyder, because if he wrote the headline, I’d be surprised, but “Ex-quarterback Threet gives starting nod to Sheridan in spread offense” is really, really not what’s going on in this article:

“I feel like Tate has a good opportunity coming in early with the extra reps in the spring and that should be beneficial,” he said. “But Nick does a good job of executing the offense the way they want it to be run. People may point out the physical things Tate or Denard may have at a physical advantage, but a lot of time at quarterback in this system comes down to decision-making.”

Is it just me, or does that quote have a whole lot more “Hey, I’ll be impartial and not endorse anyone. Now leave me alone and let me go to Arizona State” than “I decree that Nick Sheridan shall be the starter” ? I’d have to go with a lot more of Option B. Before the internets go crazy on this, look at what Threet actually said, and not so much the headline of the article.

Of course, most Michigan fans at this point are willing to endorse Tate Forcier for obvious reasons:

But honestly, whichever quarterback wins the job, be it Forcier, Sheridan, or Denard Robinson, that’s my guy. Primarily because I don’t have a say. People criticized Rich Rodriguez (and perhaps rightly so) for starting Sheridan over Threet last year, and while Threet may have been better, he certainly wasn’t head and shoulders above Sheridan.

All that’s left is the waiting…

Posted under Football, Media

Michigan v. IU Photo Gallery

From Sunday’s game. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this slideshow is worth about half a normal Formerly Anonymous post.

Posted under Baseball, Other Sports, Photo Album

Harris, Sims to Return in ’09-10

John Beilein announced today that Manny and DeShawn will return for next year. This was a foregone conclusion of sorts, but confirmation is nice.

More later, because iPhone is not the optimal blogging device.

Posted under Photo Album

Welcome to Lilliput

Odoms Tiny MichiganOr: How I learned to stop worrying (about size) and love the star system.

Since the dawn of the Rich Rodriguez era, there’s been a marked shift in recruiting philosophy. No, not the sudden emphasis on Central and Southern Florida. I speak of the recruitment of several tiny dudes each of the past three years who could plausibly play running back or slot receiver. The Lloyd Carr regime rarely recruited anyone under 5-9 (Mike Hart notwithstanding), and certainly not to play wide receiver. On the contrary, Carr seemed to only be interested in wideouts who were over 6-0, and preferred big guys who were 6-4 and over. Why the sudden change in philosophy? Il’l let the venerable Jim Stefani have the floor for a moment:

Lloyd was looking for big and fast RBs and WRs, kids who would fit in well into his pro-style offense and project well for the NFL.  There are only a small handful of prep players each year that met the skill set that he was looking for (big AND fast), so it was critical that he land a few of these kids every year.

RichRod, however, is looking for small and quick slot type receivers and backs who excel in space.  There are a lot more small and quick 5-7 to 5-11 slot types out there to recruit every year than there are future Braylon Edwards’s or Chris Perrys.  These kids may not project as NFL first round draft picks down the road, but they are kids who have the specific skills to succeed in RichRod’s offense because what they will be asked to do in this offense will be quite different than what the backs and receivers were asked to do playing Lloyd-ball.

So what does this mean? Rich could just grab any old guy off the street and he would perform equally as well as Percy Harvin? Of course not. However, there is something about the little guys that is more exciting (despite, perhaps, lower rankings). I think part of the reason Michigan fans fell in love with Martavious Odoms last year was not because he was an exceptional slot man, but the fact that the Wolverines hadn’t had a little guy at that position at all in so long. The concept of the slot receiver was as appealing as Odoms himself. If Michigan starts getting elite slot guys down the road, the offense could be that much more potent and exciting.

So why is Michigan now recruiting these tiny guys? As Jim said, the tiny guys are more likely to have the skill set that Michigan needs for the slot position to be effective. Good speed, exceptional quickness, and very good change of direction are all important to make plays in space. A bubble screen is only as effective as the ability of the receiver to make a guy miss, run by a guy, and get the ball down the field. Taller guys are generally less flexible (particularly in the hips – look at cornerbacks), and less able to change direction on a dime. Tall guys can be just as fast – look at Usain Bolt or Larry Fitzgerald – but lack the flexibility for this particular position.

That said, there are taller guys out there who have the skill set. These are freak athletes, like Percy Harvin, even Steve Breaston. With more height, and the same ability to run fast and change directions, evade tacklers, etc., these players are superior. They can do everything the little guys can, plus they’re able to get balls that are thrown higher, etc. These end up being your higher-rated guys. Noel Devine was a five-star, but think if he had the same skills at 6-1. He’d probably have potential to be one of the best ever.

Down the road, Michigan will probably be able to get these taller athletes with slot skills. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s no place in the offense for tiny guys.

Posted under Football, Personnel, Recruiting, Video

A Day at The Ball Park

I’ve been excited for this day since I saw the weather report on Monday.  The weather was absolutely amazing and the Fish was packed. Reports are over 2000 fans at the game.

The game: meh. Oaks had a good start, but 14 left on base. Blah.

The pregame: Awesome. Jim Abbott is an amazing story and, by all accounts, a great person.  He got his jersey retired before the game and it was a very nice, simple ceremony and Abbott made a nice speech thanking everybody who helped him with his goal.  He also signed autographs for about 3 innings.  Amazing guy.


I overheard someone talking with an event staff guy about how he would always play basketball with his friends at the CCRB and would dominate the court. One day this kid asks to get in and play, but he only had one hand. The guy telling story said the other team didn’t want him, so he picked him up just being nice. Early on in the game the storyteller threw a fastbreak pass to Abbott, who caught one handed on the run and dunked it. They played together in a few different leagues for the next couple of years. Awesome.

Posted under Baseball, Photo Album

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There weren’t too many people at the Fish near the top of the first game today. Understandable, but unfortunate since the game was awesome and the weather was perfect. Anyway, Tim and I were in the stands and one of the sports marketing reps asked us if we were going to be there for a while; we responded “yeah.”  She asked us if we wanted to do a tricycle race.

Hell yes.

The gauntlet was cast. Tim and I, friends for years, were now bitter foes.  As we walked out onto the warning track by the Michigan dugout, the adrenaline started pumping, and I could feel my heartbeating in my ears.  We mounted our ignoble steeds and prepared for what could only be a death race.

There was no play by play announcing for this race; it would have only served to take away from the pureness of the act, but if there was, it would sound a little something like this:

AAAAAAAND they’re off!

…Well, one of them is off. Paul is still sitting at the starting line spinning his front wheel.

Tim is nearing the turn as Timmy Kalz gives Paul some obviously sage advice as he gets 20 pounds of aluminum and rubber to stop spinning and start moving.

Paul is pedaling furiously, finding his rhythm and a first wind! He’s making up ground at a ferocious pace.  He gets to the turn with a nice line, and HE’S AROUND. HE’S COMING DOWN THE STRETCH *cough*Tim crosses the finish line*cough* AND HE’S STILL GAINING GROUND ON TIM. THIS COMPETITOR HAS A HEART OF A LION.

Paul leans in and CROSSES THE FINISH LINE and crashes into Tim’s tricycle, which luckily Tim had already dismounted. In fact, Tim is already back in his seat.  Damn, that Paul kid is slow.

In case that didn’t do it for you, here are some pictures (note: there wasn’t a professional photographer for this; lame, right?):

Posted under Baseball, Photo Album

Spring Game: Now with Pictures!

Posted under Football, Photo Album, Spring Coverage

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