Year Version Differences FAQ by JWatson

Version: 2.0 | Updated: 08/02/02 | Printable Version

-- NCAA Football 2003 for PS2 - Difference FAQ --
-- by Jeremy Watson : e-mail: --
-- Version 2.0, 8/2/2002 --

How to Read this FAQ :
-->       Note of Interest
***       Absolute Must Read
<Q>       Most Asked Questions
<update>  Changes from the last version

<update> Look for my Offensive and Defensive FAQ/Guides to show up
on soon!

--> Version 2.0 update <--
1.) Many people have e-mailed me to say that the onside kick bug I 
reported earlier is actually not a bug, but part of the college and
NFL rule book. By rule, a team who kicks the ball out of bounds while
attempting an onside kick gets a one time 5 yard penalty and rekick.
I thought I knew most of the rules of football.

2.) As for the coin toss, apparently choosing to Kick is the same as
choosing to Defer.

3.) As for scheduling, its looks as though EA got it right, teams can
actually have all of their non-conference games at home or on the road.
So the option to switch home/away is true to life, good job!

4.) After playing the game a lot more, I have some new observations.
Check out that section and look for the <update> tags.

--> Version 1.1 update! <--
1.) Added dynasty feature, see team's national rank even if not in 
the top 25.

<Q> --> So what is in this FAQ? <--
Basically this FAQ explains the differences bewteen NCAA Football 2002
and NCAA 2003 Football. I'll try to make it as complete as possible.

                          *** Features ***
NCAA Football 2003 continues to have the Dynasty mode we love from 2002.
The Campus Challenge returns as well in 2003 with only a few minor 
changes (point values are a little different). You can still create a 
profile and customize your audibles and playbooks for that profile.

One new feature is the Trophy Case which allows you to view trophies 
that you've won, like the Heisman and National Championship. Other 
trophies can be won for winning rivalry games like the Stanford vs. 
Cal Axe and for winning Bowl matchups. This is cool because it keeps 
track of your past progress. 

Another new feature in 2003 is the option to Create a School. You can
decide on everthing from color, helmet style, name, location, stadium, 
uniforms, pride stickers, and rivalries. Your created school can then
be imported into Dynasty mode. I thought this part of the game was 
really well done. With 117 NCAA IA teams though, you might not use it 

More Fight Songs, I was surprised that pretty much every team's fight 
song is included. This makes gameplay much better especially if you 
are really into the team you are using.

Cheerleaders were added to 2003 and they are kind of cool. I don't 
really think the addition makes them game that much better, but the 
cheerleaders add to the variety of the game. 

Detailed stadiums and uniforms. I just couldn't believe the detail 
on the stadiums and uniforms. The helmets, jerseys, and staidum 
atmospheres all look stunning. Don't be surprised if you think you 
are actually in the game! This is the best new feature in NCAA 2003.

Rivalry Games and their trophies were added to 2003. Hardcore college
football fans will love playing the Ohio State vs. Michigan, Cal vs.
Stanford, Army vs. Navy, and other rivalry games. This feature is 
selectable just like Exhibition, Season and Dynasty Mode. If you win 
one of the games, you'll get a special trophy for your display case.

                        *** Dynasty Features ***
The Dynasty Mode in 2003 is almost the same as 2002, with some minor
improvements. If you choose to turn on the coaches contract feature, 
(yes you can turn it off) you'll have specific conditions that your
team has to meet or you will be fired. Check marks appear next to 
each accomplishment as they are completed. Average attendence and 
television appearances determine how many recruiting points you'll
have in the off-season and play a role in your team prestige. These
numbers are displayed in Coaches Report Card screen. The BCS rankings
now include points for quality wins just like the real system. The
bowl game bids are now based on real life match-ups. In other words, 
the winners of the Big-Ten and Pac-10 meet in the Rose Bowl (unless 
the Rose Bowl is the National Championship)

<Q> --> What rank am I if I'm not in the top 25? <--
In the schedule screen, you can press select on any of your games
to see your team's national rank along with the team you are 
playing's national rank. Other team stats are also shown here.

Recruting in the off-season hasn't changed much either. The points 
that are available to you for recruiting are based on your fan base 
and tema prestige. The amount of points used is determined by the 
prestige of the player being scouted and his interest level. I have 
to admit, I've had players with Low to Average interest commit to
my school in the 5th week. In 2002, you'd be lucky to get a player
with High interest. A nice screen showing you your commits for each
of the 5 weeks pops up at the end of the week.

Schedules are now customizable. You can schedule 3-4 non-conference
games. The teams avaible to schedule seem to be based solely on 
availability of schedule. Take on tough teams to build prestige or 
go with cream-puffs to get the easy win. It doesn't seem to matter 
whether these games are home or away (there are no restrictions).

You can still import some NCAA IIA teams into Dynasty mode along with 
your created teams. So many options!

                           *** Gameplay ***
Pass defense has always been a problem in EA's football games. NCAA 
2003 addresses this problem by making the coverage tight as ever. 
DBs will now get miracle bursts of speed it order to make the play. 
This results in a lot more INTs and bat downs. The CPU still 
occasionally get the deep ball though, but not as much and makes the 
running game all the more important. Also if you switch to the 
defender and make a INT yourself, the game recognizes this and you'll
see "User Pick!" on the screen.

The running game is much improved. If you play on All-American, the 
strengths and weaknesses of your OL and DL really show up. The 
running game is no longer just a tool to set up your pass plays. I've
had entire drives based completely on the run. Breaking tackles is 
easier, I've actually run over people and stepped on their back on
my way to the score. The juke  and spin features are no longer 
impossible to pull off and the CPU uses them beautifully. Some 
people say their are more fumbles, but I think the amount is the 
same as 2002. If your player is fatigued or the field is wet, there
are obviously going to be more fumbles. You can actually run the ball
in 2003 and it is important to winning since passing is much more 

Coaches Cam on defense is a great learning tool. You can press R2 
before the snap on defense to look at what you defense in doing. 
Man to Man coverage is represented by an arrow while Zone is shown
with a colored circle. L2 just zooms out and lets you see the entire
field without giving away youor defense. This really helps you see 
what each defense is doing and is similar to the same feature on 

Auto adjust is a settings when turned on (default) which 
automatically adjust your defense based on the offensive formation.
This can help prevent players out of position at the snap. You still
manually control these shifts using the following before the snap:

Initial button     Secondary Button     Result
Triangle           Left or Right        Coverage normal
Triangle           Up                   Coverage play off or deep
Triangle           Down                 Coverage tight or bump and run
L1                 Up                   DL normal
L1                 Down                 DL pinched
L1                 Left                 DL left
L1                 Right                DL right
R1                 Down                 LBs inside
R1                 Up                   LBs normal
R1                 Left                 LBs left
R1                 Right                LBs right

<Q> --> What about gamespeed in NCAA 2003? <--
The gamespeed is about the same as 2002. I've noticed that players 
move side to side way too fast, but you need this in order to play
good defense. Play on All American and the speed of your players 
is very well represented. The CPU gains a lot of speed on Heisman
especially when covering the pass. This was a problem in 2002 as 
well and can still be fixed with AI slider adjustments.

Spin moves and Juke moves are much more effective as player 
momentum will make you miss tackles. One on one tackles are broken 
much more frequently in 2003. Blowouts are much more common 
especially when playing a weaker team. I haven't really had a close
game yet, not that it can't happen.

The kicking game is more difficult and really penalizes you for an 
early/late button press. I had two 10-15 yard punts because of a lack
of concentration. Missed extra points are more common especially in a
windy game.

--> Observations <--
The commentary for television games is a little improved. EA just 
added some additional lines to keep the games fresh and increase
replay value. Milestones are now announced such as 100+ yard rushing 
days or 1500+ yard rushing seasons. I love it when my WR catches 
4 TD in a game because the guys in the booth really make fun of the
other team. Also when you are running for the score, the announcer 
says stuff like: "He's to the 20, 10 , 5, touchdown!"

Injuries are much more common especially on turf. Make sure you have 
3 QBs, 2 of mine got hurt and I had to play QB with a WR. If your team
has turf for their home stadium, expect a lot of minor injuries 
throughout the season.

Substitutions and fatigue are more important. You can change these 
settings, but the default subs your players in and out more frequently.

<update> <Q> --> How difficult is NCAA 2003? <--
I have now played over 30 games on All-American and 10 games on 
Heisman while trying to develop strategies for my upcoming FAQ. I've 
noticed that it is so easy to run on All-American once you learn a 
few plays. You can dominate entire seasons by just handing the ball 
off. This is must different than that in NCAA 2002, when you had to 
have at least some passing game to beat the CPU.

I also noticed that certain types of pass plays are pretty much 
always money if you throw the ball right. I have more on this and 
other offensive strategies in my up coming offensive guide.

The QB position is allowed much more freedom to run the ball. I ran
the ball 5 times in a row with my QB before the CPU adjusted and 
assigned a LB to follow me. With WR downfield, I picked up 20-30
yard gains quite easily. In fact I make it a habit to roll out any
time I can.
<Q> --> What about the load times, ie slowdown seen in NCAA 2002? <--
Load times are decent. I have seen absolutely no slowdowns of any sort
that I saw with NCAA 2002. The play calling is quick, the movement is 
precise and rarely do I blame a bad play on the controller quirk. 
Cosidering the amount of data and detail in the game, this is amazing.
Good work by the QA guys at EA.

<Q> --> But what about bugs, come on there has to be some? <--
Actually I haven't run across many. There are a few however. 

1.) Sometimes when you switch you play it doesn't show that it is 
switched on the screen, but when you break the huddle it actually is 
switched. This was a bug in previous NCAA 2002 and Madden 2002 

2.) Players run through the goalposts. This is most apparent when 
teams enter the stadium to start the game or are celebrating a TD.

<update> <Q> --> Does the CPU cheat? <--
You could say yes or no, I've had games where I completely shut the 
CPU down on defense and dominate them on offense for the entire game.
I've also played games where the CPU seems to get great blocking or
a wide open WR whenever they need it. I take this as part of the 
football experience. When you raise the difficulty, these events
are more frequent. I guess this is how EA programs the game to 
become more difficult.

Don't get mad if you see a CPU RB break you best defender's tackle,
or if your goto WR is always at least double-teamed. 

<Q> --> What about money plays? <--
I haven't found anything too money yet. Some plays will work all the 
time against one team and then get stuffed by another. I guess it 
depends on who you are playing against. One message board said 
something about Hitch and Go which I tried. It does work pretty well
as long as you have time and a decent WR. I wouldn't call it a money
play because I can stop it defensively. Against the CPU, you'd have to 
expect that you can get pretty much any play to work eventually.

<Q> --> Slider adjustments? Are they needed to make the game real? <--
I've played quite a few games on All American with default sliders, 
because that is how most tournaments around where I live are played. 
All American default sliders really show the difference bewteen a 
good team and a not-so good team. This leads to a lot of blowouts both
in the win and loss column. The statistic simulation is realistic
and the gameplay is good, but probably could be better with a little

Heisman level does give the CPU quite an advantage in the speed area
and makes passing quite difficult. This is why my friends and I play 
on All American and use sliders to make the game more realistic. This 
is similar to NCAA 2002, so most players will be used to this.

<Q> --> Is this game worth getting? <--
I am a tough critic of games and been playing them for years. NCAA 2003
is really a wonderful game. It has so many options and the programmers
actually listened to complaints about gameplay in 2002. Granted you'll
still have to tweak the AI Sliders to your personal liking, but that
is too be expected. EA has to the make the default sliders interesting
only for tournament play (human vs. human). NCAA 2003 is a major 
improvement to the series and sets the bar for Madden 2003 to surpass.

<Q> --> What is the best new feature in NCAA 2003? <--
Stadium and uniform detail is the best feature in NCAA Football 2003.
It actually makes you feel the college atmosphere. Each my team's 
coach, Pat Hill (Fresno State) even looks like the real guy! The 
green V (central valley) is on the helmet and the WAC patches are on 
the uniforms. I even saw the Humanitarian Bowl patches on Stanford's 
uniforms when I played them in the Humanitarian Bowl.

The 2nd best feature is the addition of fight songs. This makes 
your favorite team stand out in the game. You can even select your 
favorite team when you first start the game and your menus will
reflect this team. This gives a very personalized feel to the game.
It is a interesting thing to implement in a game with many menus.

Finally the Create a School option rounds out the new features in
NCAA 2003. I liked this feature although I probably won't use it. 
There are 117 NCAA IA teams to play with. There was a lot of effort
put into this feature and it is fun to play with.