NCAA Football 13 developer EA Tiburon is addressing both legacy issues and introducing new elements to this year's game thanks to some exciting gameplay changes on both sides of the ball.

NCAA 13 gameplay designer Larry Richart says that the gameplay team has doubled in size and that the title contains "the most gameplay changes we've made in the console generation."

This is just the tip of the iceberg for the game announcements, so be sure to check back in the future for details on Dynasty mode and more. Don't forget to check out the screenshot gallery at the bottom for some new shots as well.


Like an inexperienced QB, past NCAA titles have struggled in the passing game. Because of either super-jumping linebackers or poor accuracy, QBs could only consistently throw to a few areas on the field, which limited your options in the passing game. Add in the ineffectiveness of play-action plays, and even a 2nd and five could feel like a third and long.

  • To improve this, EA has added over 20 new pass zones on the field, as well as a variety of ball speeds and trajectories. This should hopefully avoid moon balls as well as create more areas to put in the ball in around the field – including more medium-ranged passes. Accordingly, a pass out of the backfield looks and feels different than a hook route or a screen, and deep outs are different than slants.
  • Improved player-controlled ball placement with the left analog stick, such as leading receivers on slants, throwing it high for jump balls, and fades. You've been able to use the left analog stick in passing in previous games, but this year the ball placement – and the catches associated with them – let you put the ball in more places where defenders can't reach it.
  • After the snap, the passing icons for your receivers are grayed out until the receiver reaches the point in the route where he expects the ball or is actually looking at the QB. EA created exceptions for when teams execute corner blitzes or the receiver beats a jam at the line of scrimmage and is suddenly open. When these circumstances happen, then their icon will light up like normal. This doesn't mean you can't throw to a receiver whose icon is gray or that you can’t lead the receiver or throw into space; it simply creates a more realistic window of when the receiver is able to catch the ball because of when he's expecting it. Taking control of the receiver overrides the icon system regardless.
  • NCAA 12 had four different dropback animations. NCAA 13 has 20, including one- to seven-step drops, some of which happen much faster than the standard drops from last year. In general, quarterback moves like dropbacks, throw-on-the-run animations, shovel passes, and pitches take less time to complete. EA Tiburon says it wants your moves as a QB to be less jittery to allow for better pocket shapes and user control.
  • NCAA 13 introduces receiver-specific pump fakes, with different fakes for whether the quarterback is you're inside or outside of the pocket. Like the other QB actions, pump fakes unfold faster. Say goodbye to the drawn-out jump/spin pump fake.
  • Play action has been a weak spot for both the Madden and NCAA franchises for years now, as the run fake gave defenses plenty of time to beat the blocks and meet the quarterback in the backfield before he had a chance to scan his receivers. For NCAA 13, EA Tiburon is trying to make play-action viable with quicker handoffs and the handy ability to abort the handoff before it occurs by hitting right trigger. When this happens the running back automatically starts blocking. EA is also adding more plays where tight ends chip block defensive ends before releasing into a pass pattern to give play-action plays more of a chance to develop.
  • A new catching system features more than 430 new catch animations, which hopefully means fewer balls going right into the facemask. This list includes some that were in previous titles but weren't occurring. The developer also wants to allow more user catches, so player control of receivers has been slowed down slightly so you can get receivers in better position for user catches.
  • If the intended receiver is still within five yards from the line of scrimmage and is looking at the QB, the QB will automatically perform a quick shovel pass instead of a big windup throw.
  • EA has cleaned up the animation for option pitches to address getting tackled in mid-pitch and to fix the ball morphing through the body. The distance between the running back and the quarterback is also taken into account.
  • Quarterbacks can get out of potential sacks in the pocket with a new eight-direction QB avoidance system. This allows them to shrug off, sidestep, spin out of, or duck to avoid a sack.


  • In NCAA 13, defenders do not react to passes unless they turn their head to locate the ball or they react directly to a receiver's movements.
  • Different defenders cover receivers using different techniques. Some play off a receiver, allowing them to see the ball better and react to plays like slants. Others play more underneath coverage knowing they have safety help over the top. Defenders also engage in hand fighting with receivers as they both run down the field. Defensive backs can even knock the ball out of a receiver’s hand after the initial catch.
  • EA has rebuilt the pre-snap defensive alignments from scratch. They are now based on mirroring what the offensive is doing in order to get the best matchups. Defenses now adjust to counter to unbalanced offensive formations, and they also better disguise whether their defensive coverage is man or zone.


  • EA has adjusted punt and kick-off coverage lanes to keep players from bunching up. The receiving teams also have better wall setups than in past years.
  • AI-controlled playcalling shows more variance by flipping plays, cutting down on the re-using of plays, and incorporating more team-specific tendencies such as spread offenses in the red zone or at the goal line.
  • The controller layout for NCAA and Madden are synchronized so they are the same between the two games.