This is for all the marbles and I didn’t want it any other way. Any Linfield fan has the terrible taste of last year’s defeat to Whitworth still dangling on their pallet. It was a painful experience as a clearly more talented Linfield squad squandered scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity and most ‘Cat fans, including myself, felt we gave away the NWC crown.
Some might say that Linfield fans say that anytime we lose but that’s not always true. As sad as it was to see the great 2005 squad drop that heartbreaker to Whitewater it sat well with me that it was two great teams giving everything they had. The Warhawks survived and everyone knew they witnessed a game for the ages. But this example is about as far away from the 2006 Whitworth game as possible.
So here we are one year later and the ‘Cats are heading into another game against the Rats that not only has NWC title ramifications but essentially is a play-in game for a post-season birth. This is why kids come to Linfield….to play in big games.
We’re going to skip this week’s know your foe due to time constraints so let’s drop right into Wildcat’s 11 keys to victory.
Limit the Whitworth Run Game
The Rats are a zone running team and they have done it very well this year in leading the NWC in rushing yards at 246 yard per game. The Rats are lead by sophomore transfer (Idaho) running back Adam Anderson at 103 yards a contest. The Rats don’t have very many rushing plays they just run them out of multiple formations and I’m sure we’ll see QB Kory Kemp running the zone keeper out of the empty set. Linfield has to control this aspect of Whitworth’s game and I believe we match up well here with our front seven.
Linfield passing game has to make plays
Linfield has been focused on being a more balanced offense and has done a very nice job of that over the past few weeks but Linfield is going to make their hey with the passing game this weekend. The Rats rushing defense is stout so I don’t expect Linfield to run wild in the Pine Bowl so Trevor Scharer and company needs to bring their “A” game this Saturday.
Cash in on Scoring Opportunities
This was a big key in last year’s lost. Linfield blew multiple scoring chances last year with either drops in the end zone or just awful turnovers. Linfield HAS to make good when they sniff the end zone. Scoring could be at a premium so the ‘Cats have to convert when the opportunity presents itself.
Continued Solid Special Teams Play
Linfield has been great in coverage this year and our kicking team of Stan Fisher and Scott Birkhofer has been stellar all year long. The ‘Cats special teamers need to have their eyes wide open because the Rats are not afraid to run fakes and other hi-jinks. We could put ourselves in a good spot if we’re able to snuff out a potential fake special teams play.
Securing the Ball
Not much to say here besides we all know Whitworth loves striping the ball. Let’s be the team that forces turnovers and not the other way around.
Let’s make Whitworth beat us on Kory Kemp’s arm and not his legs. If the ‘Cats can limit their rushing attack and force Whitworth into a passing mode then Linfield will be in great shape. Both teams will be up and excited for the contest but I have a strong belief that this Linfield team has been hitting its stride and is ready to breakthrough in a game like this. I’m calling it right now that Linfield will win by 10. Go ‘Cats!