NCAA Football 14 dropped last week and that means that many of you are settling in for some serious extended time with the game. One of the favorite modes in the franchise is Dynasty mode. Personally, I’ve been addicted to it for over a decade and perhaps the only other mode in a game that I’m addicted to more is Franchise Mode (Connected Careers) in Madden. NCAA Football is always a game that I know I’ll put some serious time into and be playing for months. Though for that time to be enjoyable you’ve got to be winning right? Well we know a little something about winning over here and after several inquires for advice and tips, we’ve decided to put together our definitive NCAA Football 14 Dynasty Building guide. I won’t say the tips and strategies in this guide are the only way to build a successful Dynasty but I can tell you if you follow the advice laid out here you’ll be fielding a nearly unbeatable team in no time.
While the information in this guide will work for all players, players who like to start dynasties with lower rated teams will find this guide especially helpful. Starting a dynasty with a lower rated team, 1 or 2 star schools, is a choice usually made by those that want the challenge and satisfaction of taking a team from something to nothing. But enough talking, let’s get to it.
Choosing A Team
I’ll be honest, you can build a dominant team in NCAA Football 14 Dynasty mode with ANY team, the only question is how hard do you want to play every game and how much heartache can you stand. It’s not rocket science though, if you start out with a 5 or 6 star school you’ll have an easier time at everything and if you start with a smaller and weaker school then you’ll have a lot tougher time at everything. I won’t tell you who to pick but personally I like a challenge and even though I love my Georgia Bulldogs, I don’t build my Dynasty with them because they are already so good I would feel like I’m winning because they have so much talent, no because of my skills as a coach and player. If you love your favorite school, pick them but if you think you want to really build a team from nothing, check out our list of the best lower rated teams in NCAA Football 14 to start with.
Once you’ve chosen your team and signed your contract, there are few things you need to do before you jump into the season. The first thing I recommend you do if you’ve chosen one of the lower rated teams is use the Custom Conference feature to move your team into a more competitive conference which should give you a fighting chance, even though you’ll be outmatched at every position in almost every game. Putting yourself into the SEC, ACC or PAC 12 will make sure you don’t take flack for being in a weak conference. This allows you to put together the toughest scheduled you can and you’ll need to do that to have any shot of getting ranked and winning a national championship. Speaking of custom schedules, that’s the next place you need to go. There will be a number of games that are locked and can’t be changed, these are conference games and you have to play those, being in a tough conference means that your mandatory games will most of the time be against ranked or high rated teams which helps in the polls. Getting back to the point here, I always recommend going to any of the games that aren’t locked and replacing that team with the highest ranked opponent you can’t find in each of the available weeks. This should give you an A+ for schedule difficulty and you’ll want to do this every season.
The next thing you need to do is set up your Redshirt players. For those who don’t know, you Redshirt a player who you think needs more time to develop. That player will not be available for use after Redshirting them, but its a good way to get players and extra year of development. You’ll want to Redshirt any really good Freshman or any weak players at position where you have some depth, no reason to have a kid on the roster who’s not going to get any tick. Redshirting is an important step in building your team for the future so don’t take it likely. If you are starting with a weaker team then you may want to Redshirt fewer players or perhaps not Redshirt anyone at all the first few years, chances are you’ll need all the firepower you can get. I must reiterate though that even on a weak team it makes no sense not to Redshirt guys at the bottom of the depth chart at a position where you have 3 or more better players ahead of him.
The final major thing you need to do is set up your recruiting board and scout the talent. In the preseason recruiting board you can only put prospects on your board and scout them, you won’t actually be able to start recruiting them and assigning points to them until Week 1. If you remember nothing else from this guide, remember this, recruiting properly will make or break your team for years to come so pay attention. I’ve seen tons of different strategies for setting up recruiting boards but I’ll share with you mine. When selecting recruits, I always go to the SPARC Top 100 and see if there is any interest there. If there is, depending on need I’ll most of the interested prospects to my board, though even then you still need to understand your team’s needs. If you using a lower rated team in your Dynasty like I do, then chances are there won’t be anybody that’s interested (shown by a green dot), but you have to look. Make sure you sort on the Interest Level (INT) and then go about setting up your board by choosing the best available players that have you the highest on their boards first. The mistake a lot of people make that start with weaker teams is that they try to recruit the best players available, 4 and 5 star recruits. You are fooling yourself and hurting your team if you think that any of these guys are going to sign with your school at first because they won’t. You have to work your way up the ranks and in a few years around Year 3, if you’ve been winning quite a bit you’ll notice that a FEW will start to have you under consideration.
The key to building a great team when you start with a lower rated team is to understand one simple truth: Players you are able to recruit and sign don’t have to be superstars to make your team better, they just need to be better than the players you currently have on your roster. If you understand that one fact, you can start to improve your team over time and eventually the hard work pays off. So if going after the best players available isn’t a good idea, what should you do? First you start with the players that have the most interest in your team because they’ll be the easiest to turn into commits. I don’t normally waste my time with 1 star recruits, put the majority of your effort into 3 star recruits, they are right in the middle and provide great value. From there, target players in your pipeline states since you’ll get a nice bonus from that. Starting out, focus on 3 star recruits and pick 2-5 4 stars that you want to really take a stretch run at, I suggest these players be in positions of need so you don’t take any penalties for recruiting players at a spot where they won’t get to play for a while. As far as the type of players to recruit, I would say this varies based on the kind of offense you run but there are some pretty fundamental truths that you would do well to heed.
You can’t teach speed, so targeting speedy players at the RB, WR, LB, DE, and DB positions should be a must. For WR and DB, I absolutely love it when I can find solid players that are in the 6’o plus ranges, nothing like a DB that’s long and fast. For RB, speed and agility are most important but power is always a nice plus. On defense, I tend to like my DE to be in the 6’3-6’5 or above range with at least 70 speed. That might seem a little slow but as a cog in your overall defense you can often get away with guys on the edge that are a littler. They normally have solid power for bull rush type moves and if you use the right coach skills, you can give him a nice little bump in speed. If you can find them faster, in the 80+ speed range them go after those guys heavy as well. For my LBs, I tend to like my OLB to be 6’0 plus with 80+ speed, since they end up having to chase RB’s to the edge often and end up in coverage on TE’s quite a bit. At MLB, I’m willing to take a guy with less speed, 75+ if he’s a sure tackler, has great instincts, and is solid (225+ weight, remember these are kids). For OL, I’m like them BIG, I’m talking 6’5 plus with plenty of strength. I tend to like faster TE’s that are pass catchers but if you prefer to have a guy that blocks well then that’s fine. As far as QB, that’s one I leave to you to decide, I prefer a balanced QB, and then stash a few scramblers on the bench for situational use. If you follow my advice here, you’ll be putting up one of the best draft classes in the country in no time.
Playing The Games
So now that you’ve gotten your recruiting together, you’ve got to actually play the games. Everyone has varying levels of skills so there isn’t a whole lot of advice to give here except play to win every game, taking a single loss in college usually takes you out of the national championship picture. What I will say though about playing the games is to play to your strengths, whatever those may be in a particular year. You’ve got to be able to adjust, if your receivers are weak but you’ve got a solid RB, pound the ball away. The run game in NCAA Football 14 is the best it’s ever been, so make it your business to learn how to run effectively in the game. Your victories don’t have to be pretty, you just have to get them. If you have to run 30+ times a game, do it. Once you get up by 14 or more, adjust your playstyle to conservative to activate accelerated clock and finish your opponent off quicker. If your RB sucks but you QB and WR’s are solid, then throw that thing around like you are Joe Montana. A secret in most offenses is that almost every team has a solid TE, feel free to make your TE your primary receiver if you have to, get the wins any way you can. Another effective strategy is to use the screen game to supplement a weak run game. If you do have to pass a lot, you are still going to want to keep the defense honest every now and then by running and if you can’t really run, short screen passes can be just as effective.
The last thing I’ll say on this is that if you can be balanced by running and passing then do that. The “setup” play mechanic works beautifully in this year’s game, so if you can pound the rock effectively, you’ll be able to set up big passing plays which should basically make you unstoppable. On the defensive side of the ball, don’t take too many risk in your first few seasons when you’ll be outmatched from a talent perspective. I suggest playing man on first only when most teams run. On second and third downs you’ll want to play a zone to compensate for your lack of speed and overall talent. Now on third, depending on the distance, you can get a little more aggressive and blitz, but I’d only recommend this if you are good at manually rushing the passer.
So that’s all I got folks. I didn’t expect this guide to get this long but I guess it’s not called the Ultimate NCAA Football 14 Dynasty Building Guide for nothing. The tips shared in this guide aren’t absolutes, these are just things I’ve tested and refined over the last decade of playing the game. I think everything in here can be executed by anyone, no matter there actually skill level which is good. If you guys have other tips, please share them in the comments. If you have questions about something NCAA Football 14 Dynasty related, feel free to drop them in the comments too and I’ll answer them the best I can. Now go build the best Dynasty NCAA Football has ever seen!!
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