Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Day After...

It's the day after the shocking loss at Willamette and the sharpness of defeat is still twisting inside. I've talked to a few Linfield'ers on the phone and my wife talked me off the edge last night on the way home. Mrs. 11 was great...she had a hot meal and cold beer waiting for me when I walk through the door with my lower lip dragging across our kitchen tile.

I started pulling clips a few hours ago for the highlight DVD and still can't believe how we went from total domination to a dog flight in a very short time period. It was just a wild situation to witness.

So here I am feeling like garbage and I get a random email from a Linfield fan I've never met but he's been checking out the blog and felt the need to drop me a line. His email really snapped me back to life and made everything all clear. Let me share you the excerpt that made it come together for me:

I remember a statement made by Terry Bradshaw years ago ( and I paraphrase) how easy it is to be a happy, reasonably stable and well adjusted person when everything is going well.

It's when the stuff hits the fan and performance and results are lost that the real metal of a man can be found.

Right when I read that I felt 10x worse and then 10x better at the same time. I felt worse because of the way I reacted right after the game. I was cursing in my mind and on the phone with my anger of the loss and questioning if I'm somehow contributing to this by glorifying the program with all the videos of the 'Cats cutting up team after team during the incredible run of the past years. I just reacted as poorly as a fan and as a supporter could get. Looking back I'm just as disappointed in my reaction to the loss as much as the loss itself.

The reason why I felt better is that my anonymous emailer was spot on. At Linfield we always talk about handling adversity and when the clips and odds are against us we find a way to rise above the panic and chaos and perform like winners.

So instead of crying in my milk and contributing to the crush of worriers of the jeopardy of the streak I'm going to turn all of my support towards helping my 'Cats just go out the next game and do the best they can. As players I hope they are finding that same mindset that on Monday they're just going to hit the practice field and work each snap on improving and competing. If the kids get caught up in worrying about two or three games down the road they won't see the hurdle and the opportunity right in front of them.

If you are a fan that is reading this I hope you take this to heart also. Instead of feeling dread and trying to dissect everything and coming up with a list of "what ifs" about last Saturday, just show up at the Catdome and put everything into feeding the 'Cats that Catdome energy that has propelled so many teams of the past to that higher level of play.

What's done is done and it's time to find out if this team is made of steel or tin foil. As a fan I'm putting my Reynolds Wrap away.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Willamette-33 Linfield-32

I don't really know what to say right now but I'll let Coach Mora sum it up for me.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Week 4: Cat Fight!!!!! (Linfield at Willamette)

I’m still not used to Willamette and Linfield playing this early in the year but I always look forward to the annual showdown. Typically, Linfield and Willamette played the last game of the year for about 7 straight years (1999-2005) but this year we get to open NWC play with our stone's throw rival.

Linfield has owned Willamette in recent years but this is always a hotly contested battle (sans 2004/20005). In 2006 Willamette was in right in the game until the end when Linfield was able to pull away. This year Willamette is an improved ball club that plays extremely hard. Don’t let the 1-3 record fool you…they’ve been in every game so far this year. I have a very high respect for Coach Speckman. His kids play the game the right way and he runs a first class program. I feel he's been hampered by Willamette's admissions policy the past few years and it has shown on the scoreboard. In fact, if the right job came up I could see Coach Speckman leaving Willamette in short order but that is just my thoughts.

You can read Linfield Sports preview here: Backyard Brawl or watch Coach Speckman give a preview of Linfield/Willamette here: Linfield Pre-Game Interview

Know Your Foe (Thanks M-Zone.com!)

Just what is a Bearcat? According the Wikipedia a Bearcat is actually a Binturong. A Bearcat is not actually a bear or a cat and the original meaning is lost so people don’t really know where it came from. Who knew?

Other fun facts are that Bearcats are nocturnal and sleeps on branches. They like fruit but will eat eggs, leaves, and other small animals (rodents/birds). Deforestation has greatly thinned out their numbers (no wonder they dislike UPS so much), and can be vicious when corned.

Typically a Bearcat is the size of a smallish dog (20-30 lbs) and its bushy tail can act as a fifth hand which comes in handy when running the fly offense.

Wildcat11's key to victory: (Granted more goes to winning a game than just below but these are some of my highlighted areas)

Linfield Linebackers vs The Fly

No doubt our sophomore trio of LBs has shown some great flashes in the early season but no game this year will be as big of mental challenge as defending The Fly for the first time. No team will give you more false reads and ball faking deception than Willamette. They might not be as physical or athletic as WOU/HSU but if Willamette gets you out of your lane it can spell big trouble.

Turnovers

A thorn in Linfield’s side for the last part of 2006 and early 2007 is putting the ball on the ground. Again, I understand that turnovers will happen but we do need to protect the rock in a better manner and if we do turn it over it has to be “3 and out”. Willamette was able to get in their game with SOU last week on a turnover returned for a ‘Tug and we can’t afford to give WU free points.

Willamette Linebackers vs Linfield Slots

Willamette’s biggest asset on defense is their hard playing LBs. In watching the WOU/Willamette game they are athletic and fly to the ball. A big key to our offensive attack (in my humble opinion) is our slot receiver’s ability to make plays vs the Willamette Linebackers. If our slots will continue to make the tough catches to move the chains then Willamette is going to have a hard time defending the ‘Cats.

Linfield Running Game – Keep Them Honest

The best way to slow down a pass rush is to run the ball. We’re not going to be mistaken with a wishbone team but if we can prove to be effective running the ball in spots then it will allow the passing attack to be even more effective. But come on…that’s just football 101.

Overall, if we don’t put ourselves in bad spots with turnovers then I think we just have too much offense for Willamette. I like the ‘Cats by 2 TD’s if not more.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Alumni Game is Monday Night


Holy crap….I’m not ready for this. The past few years for the alumni vs JV game I’ve managed to get out to a football field and get the legs moving to make sure that I wouldn’t keel over with total exhaustion during the alumni game. This year the only time I’ve stepped on a football field is to watch Linfield’s first two games of the year. So if I don’t blog after Monday you will know why.

The game is on Monday (Oct 1st) at 7:15 pm. The alumni team will be wearing white on white Linfield uniforms and just about each alumni player will be wearing anywhere from 5-30 extra pounds from their former playing days. As the organizer of the game this is when I start getting really nervous. We have an excellent roster of former ‘Cats that will be back at the ‘Catdome but sometimes life comes up and guys can’t make it. It drives me bonkers because I want to make sure we have the spots filled up enough where have enough bodies on the turf.

On our offense I think Cat fans that attend are going to have some major flashbacks to the 2004-2005 seasons. On Defense we have a cool mix of young and old vets so I hope we hold up our end of the deal.

I think that is going to be the last Alumni Game for Wildcat11. This will be my 4th game and I think that is plenty. Last year when I was in open space with a ball carrier my mind knew what it wanted to do but the flesh wasn’t willing. As I age that aspect of playing isn’t going to improve.

So here’s to the guys that are coming out on a Monday night. It’s a tough deal for the players to pull off and I hope the current kids in the program will get a little better understanding of the tradition of former ‘Cat players and how proud we are of them.

Go ‘Cats!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Weekend AD-genda: Bye-Week


I think this is the perfect time of the yearly Bye-Week for our ‘Cats. After two up and down weekends vs quality opponents the timing is probably right to heal some dings and work on the scheme before we enter conference play next weekend at Willamette (9/29, 3 pm game time).

My first instinct is to head down to Salem on Saturday night to check out a much improved Southern Oregon Raider team play the Bearcats but I have some projects to work on during Saturday and I think it might be best to take Mrs. 11 out for a nice dinner since she’s been so great in supporting my Wildcat craze this season (as usual).

Good reads about HSU/Linfield

Mrs. 11 and I had the pleasure of playing guest host to D3football.com’s Keith McMillian and Pat Coleman last weekend. You can read Keith’s thoughts about their trip out to the PacNW here on his fantastic weekly Around The Nation series on D3football.com. I highly recommend that you read this article.

In his article Keith wrote about a “D3 geek moment of the trip” and that moment was Keith and Pat’s impromptu stop at Lewis and Clark. In reading this Mrs. 11 laughed and said that was incorrect and the geek moment of the trip should have been when Keith, Pat, and myself were all at our dinning room table each on our laptops reading the d3football posting board at 1 am in the morning. I might have to agree.

Also, The SID for Hardin Simmons runs a blog and he posted up on his trip out to Portland/McMinnville. He has a classic story about his friends wanting some seafood for lunch and the “establishment” they pull up to in thinking they found the right spot. Classic.

Highlights, Highlights, Highlights

Well, I just about wrapped up the WOU segment for the player highlight DVD for this season. Not to put myself over but it’s looking pretty darn sharp. I’m excited to start on the HSU game this weekend. We had four cameras working that game. We have the two stadium cameras that work the video board to pull clips from, my shots, and senior running back Drew Ragan’s uncle (Jerry) was there shooting. I love it when Jerry is there. He’s been shooting video for years and his clips are top shelf. Needless to say, we should have that game well covered from just about every angle.

Housework

I’ll be pretty much useless for the next few months during weekends so I’m gunning on wrapping up a few projects around the house. We’ll see if I can knock them out. Along with that I plan on opening a couple of Longhammer IPA's and enjoying whatever college games are on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mug Shots of the NWC

I feel a little robbed by Adam Johnson of D3football.com who wrote about the porn ‘staches the seniors at PLU busted out for their profile pictures this season. He’s stealing a little bit of my thunder because a few weeks ago I thought of running this post about the various mug shot pictures in the NWC this year. DAMN YOU ADAM JOHNSON!

Anyways, the football mug shot is a phenomenon that goes back to the beginning of the games. There are so many different variations of how players present themselves in the mug shot. Honestly, most are pretty comical. Most players probably don’t even think their mug shot until they sit down in front of the camera. Then they immortalized their image as a player for the rest of their days in some ridiculous manner.

I was always the 'clean cut and smile guy” for my mugs. I smile because I was playing college football and enjoyed every minute of playing, so why not smile? I’m not a mean guy so why try to put on a front and look tough? A mug shot never won a game so I didn’t see why I needed to looked pissed.

So let’s dive into a few categories of mug shots around the NWC this season.

The “I’m wearing my dad’s shirt” mug:

This classic happens all the time in the college football world. What happens is that at the beginning of the year a team doesn’t have all of their team gear ready (polo’s, jackets) so the SID has one or two community shirts/jackets that he puts on every player for their mug shot. The result is that a number of guys look like they’re 10 years old and they stole their big brother’s clothes. This year’s winner is Menlo. They have a number of examples of this gaff and the most egregious examples are here, here, and here. Brutal.

The “Mean Mug”

This is the #1 most brutal football mug shot. I’ve never understood the mean mug head shot. Are you in jail? Did you just find out you’re girl is cheating on you? What’s your problem buddy? Like I said a mug shot has never intimidated a sole on the football field or won a game. Buddy…you’re playing college football so smile a little! Here are some classic examples of this mug here, here, here, here, and here.

The “Pez Head”

This is a very rare mug shot and has a very close relation to the “mean mug”. The Pez Head is a move that some players will use in their mug shot when they really want to amp up the intimidation. The move is to tilt the head back while wearing the mean mug. The effect is to try to make yourself look even more intimidating but all it does is make you look like you’re trying to squeeze out a fart. We only had two Pez Heads in the NWC this year that are here and here. Congrats!

The “Holy Hair” mug

We do live in the Pacific Northwest so I shouldn't be surprised that many of the NWC rosters are littered with players “expressing” themselves through their hair. I guess I’m just old fashioned when it comes to the hair cut during football but there are a ton of filthy looking guys in the NWC this season. Whitworth was leading the conference last year in guys with hair like girls but as you can see the NWC has diversified in this category for the 2007 season. You can find some examples of these long hairs here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The “Just Woke Up” mug

Come on bro….your parents are spending 20K plus a year to send you to college. At least you can get yourself in order.

The “‘Stache”

PLU has already been lauded for their “Class of ‘Stache” this year but here are a few more sweet mustaches in the NWC. Here are two ‘Cats with some not-so sweet lip love: here and here. Coaches still have the old rule of that you can grow the lip fuzz if it's "neatly trimed and groomed". Unless your name is Ron Jermey I think it's time to revisit this rule.

The "Crazy Eyes"

Now we already visted the mean mug but the "crazy eyes" is a different cat. Sometimes when you look into someone's eyes you can see they're a little offbase. I haven't see a crazy eyes in a while so enjoy it while you can.

The "Look At Me" mug

Like the PLU guys the lip hair is partly a gag and you'll see the attention seeker mug shot on every team or so. Now, it's probably more a rib than anything but some guys just try really hard to be different and it comes off forced.

That pretty much covers it. If you see any more classics feel free to post links up in the comments section.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Wild West Shootout at the ‘Catdome


OK, I did say ‘Cats by 10 in my Linfield/HSU preview. I didn’t think it would be 52-42 but it’s still 10 points. It was a picture perfect late summer day at the ‘Catdome and nothing like breaking out a home opener with two offenses that looked like they belong on a basketball court more than a football field. So let’s talk about the Good, the not-so good, and the ugly in Linfield's first win (a big one) of the 2007 season.

The Good

Trevor Sharer – One of the best passing/offensive performances in Linfield history. Trevor’s 511 passing yards incredibly only puts him 3rd in a single game performance behind The Butcher’s 525 (Oxy 2005) and 528 yards (Whitewater 2005) but now holds the single game record for total yardage in one game at 555 total yards. After the WOU game we all thought Trevor was going to have a huge year but that is just ridiculous. Five alright’s for Trevor.

Pass Protection- In order for the QB to get all the love the boys up front have to get their job done and again they were great in the pass-pro department. The O-Line did not give up one sack on the day and there were only a few times were Trevor was really rushed. Along with the offensive line, the running backs did a fantastic job in picking up blitzing Cowboys.

Receivers- Again just a fantastic day with 10 different Wildcats catching passes. The number of ‘Cats that can make plays catching the ball seems to be endless. I love the makeup of their character.

Kicking Game- Stan Fisher didn’t get to punt very much on Saturday but was fantastic again. The Punt coverage team cashed in on Stan’s perfect placement that pinned the ‘boys on the 1-yard line in one of Stan’s two punts. Also, what can you say about our place kicker Scott Birkhofer? The Junior was phenomenal with two huge field goals of 46 and 51 yards (a school record). I’m pretty sure that will garner him some All-American attention.

The Not-So Good

Turnovers- While there were zero interceptions the offense did put the ball on the carpet 5 times while losing 3 of the fumbles. HSU converted two of those turnovers into TD. I don’t know if it’s a mental thing at this point but we to clean this up or it will bite us down the road.

Defense- I’m a defensive guy so I just hated seeing a talented Cowboy offense hang a 42 spot on my ‘Cats. There are definite areas where we can get much better at and I truly believe as we move along we’re going to get there. We have three sophomore linebackers (who are going to be stars) but it takes time to get a handle on our defense in terms of adjustments. However, that still doesn’t excuse the tackling at times, needing to pressure the QB more, and being out of control when we have shots for big tackles for losses. However, I’m an optimist and know that we’ll keep ratcheting up the defense but it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

On another note….I’m I crazy to complain that the offense was scoring too quickly and this could be part of the problem this past Saturday? Look at the time of possession for Linfield. We didn’t have one drive that lasted over 3 ½ minutes. That just a crazy pace and leads to our defense to be out there for a long time. Maybe I’m looking a gift horse in the mouth but a few drives over 6 minutes wouldn’t kill us.

The Ugly

Total Attendance: 2154. The last time I remember any empty seats in the main grandstands was the 2003 Redlands playoff games. The upper south corner of the grandstands was empty and it was disappointing. The fans that were there were GREAT as always. However, I think the fact that OSU, Oregon, and PSU having all home games today hurt our attendance. Linfield only has 3 more home games this season and if we do go 8-1 then we might get a home playoff game. Linfield fans are calling for our defense to step up but I’m calling on our fans to step up.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Don't Tick Off Former Wildcat Tight Ends

video

Reaction from a former Wildcat Tight End after a Wildcat interception return was not ruled a TD. (The 'Cats punched it in the next play). However, if you wear stripes at the 'Catdome be aware who you piss off.

Linfield Gets Big Win and Signs Up Latest Corporate Sponsor!

Great win for Linfield yesterday!! Great news after the game as well. Linfield signed up a brand new national sponsor that should help keep the ball off of the ground in the coming games. Select members of the team are scheduled for a tour and photo op with CEO Jimmy Stickyfingers at the Elmer's Factory later in the bye week.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Week 2: Hardin-Simmons at Linfield

"You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That's* the *Chicago* way! And that's how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I'm offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?" -Jim Malone, The Untouchables

That quote above pretty much sums up my feeling for this week for the Linfield/Hardin-Simmons game. Our ‘Cats have to be willing to put it all on the line and do whatever it takes to win this ball game. Both nationally ranked teams come into this game at a 0-1 mark and both are in big need of this win.

The Cowboys come in ranked 19th in the D3football.com poll and our ‘Cats sit at the 15 slot. Both are traditional powers in their respective regions (HSU-South & Linfield-West) and both are looking for a few answers coming into Saturday’s contest. You can read Linfield Sports game preview here: Return Engagement and Hardin-Simmons preview here: Week 2

Here are some areas that I believe are vital for the ‘Cats to come out victorious.

Limiting Turnovers:

In Linfield’s last two losses (Whitworth & WOU) there have been a fumble in each game that was returned for TD by the Wolves and Rats. That just can’t happen this week. I’m not so stupid to think turnovers will not happen but we have to take care of the rock and not give up free points to the Cowboys. It’s a pretty simple tenant of football; the more you turn it over the less chance you have to win.

Offensive Balance:

Linfield does not need to turn into Air Force and become a ground team but I would love to see our ‘Cats be more effective running the ball. We’ll control more clock and just open up the passing game even more. No knock on HSU but WOU’s front seven was flat out good. So if we have similar struggles this week then my level of concern about the run game is going to rise.

Pass Rush:

HSU spent the first game trying to figure out who was going to replace long time starter Jordan Neal and according to HSU’s press release it looks like they’ve settled on sophomore, Justin Feaster, who went 12-20 for 157 yards and 2 TD’s in their opening week loss to LaCrosse. I feel good about our DB’s ability to handle the deep ball but we need a better rush this week to keep the young signal caller off balance and not allow the ‘Cats to get chewed up in the short game.

Limit HSU big plays/tackling:

It seemed last year that the Cowboys moved down the field with multiple 20-30 yard strikes and we all know that HSU WR, Mychal Carrillo turned a 5 yard loss on a WR screen into a dazzling 66 yard TD to open up the 2nd half. I don’t think I need to elaborate anymore in why tackling is important.

Overall:

It obvious that our offense is in a much better place this season headed into HSU than 2006. The Cowboys have had two weeks to prepare and will be much sharper this week than their season opener. I expect the game to be hotly contested but I believe our experience and playmakers in the passing game will be too much for their younger DB’s. This is beyond a must win for Linfield in terms of playoffs and moving our season forward and I think our ‘Cats will rise to the occasion. ‘Cats by 10.

BTW….for peat’s sake I hope they let this girl get into HSU or she just might have had to go to McMurry.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Please don't pull this prank with the Catdome Videoboard



Deadspin.com posted up this prank clip from the guys at Collegehumor.com. Now, I hope after watching this you would NEVER....EVVVVVER try to pull this move on one of your buddies. If so, getting your ass kicked wouldn't even be a good start.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Losing stinks but the glass is more than half full.


WOU stadium was packed full of small college football fans but unfortunately our Wildcats went down in defeat to a very good WOU squad 32-20. I’m not a big fan of losing and disappointed that we started the season on a losing note; however, even in defeat you can tell this 2007 Linfield team is going to be a contender in the West Region.

Slow Start

Honestly, the slow start just killed us. It makes it so much more difficult to beat a good team when you spot them a big early lead. The first three series were set up all on Linfield mistakes that were exploited by solid WOU play. We gave the Wolves prime position in their first series by flubbing a squib kick that allowed WOU to set up shop at mid-field, then the fumble recovery for TD, and lastly was the fumbled kick return that allowed WOU a short porch to kick a field gold to jump to that 16-0 lead. Chalk it up to first game kinks but it was a tough way to start.

However, let’s look at the very positive side of this. Our ‘Cats didn’t fold in the face of adversity. Instead of a pity party, Trevor Scharer and the offense would march down the field in two consecutive possessions for touchdowns in impressive fashion to bring Linfield within 3 points.

The Good:

Trevor Scharer: The Senior QB played a very good game. Trevor threw for 274 yards on 24 for 36 and had the ‘Cats on the verge getting Linfield within 5 points with about 6 minutes to play. The pick at the goal line was a mistake I don’t expect Trevor to make again this season. After Saturday night, everyone is expecting Trevor to have a huge 2007 season.

Wide Receiver Corp: Excellent. Six different wide outs caught passes and just showed the depth of this group. I don’t remember any real drops, there was the willingness to catch the ball in traffic, and I loved the way they attacked. This group is going to murder defensive backfields this season.

Pass protection: This was a huge question mark going into the game and I felt the O-Line did a very good job in allowing Trevor time to operate. I’m trying to remember the last defensive line Linfield faced that was as good as WOU’s 2007 front and honestly I can’t remember…maybe 1997’s Willamette? The inexperience group answered the call in the pass protection area and will be better for it.

Run Defense: In the first half of the game we really limited the WOU run game but as the game progressed in the second half those 2-3 yard gains turned into 4-5 yard pick-ups. Most of that was just wear from the big bodies of WOU but the ‘Cats speed should cause major problem for NWC foes in the running department.

Defending the deep ball: WOU had success in the intermediate game but the ‘Cats shut down the big play with three great picks.

The Not-So-Good:

Running Game: We did score our first TD on a Drew Regan plunge but that was really about it for the run game. Really though, I don’t know how many DIII teams could run against WOU’s front. But let’s not make excuses; we have to really improve in this aspect of the game if we want to be a legit playoff threat. We need better balance to take heat off the passing game and allow the ‘Cats to use more of the clock.

Pass Rush: The ‘Cats have to get more heat on the QB. That was a big reason why WOU had success in the intermediate passing game, WOU’s Thorson had all the time to set his feet and make good decisions. Some fans were complaining about our DB’s playing too soft but it’s near impossible to cover everyone when a QB has all day to go through his progression (Just ask Linfield opponents from 2004-2005).

Turnovers: Three is too many.

Overall: Losing stinks but I think Linfield fans can find the silver lining and realize WOU is a very good DII team and our ‘Cats are going to be a force as we move along in 2007. We have to clean up these areas because this Saturday’s game with HSU is as big of a game as they come. I’ll be back Thursday to talk ‘Cats and Cowboys.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Week 1: Linfield at Western Oregon University

“When you got an all-out prizefight, you wait until the fight is over, one guy is left standing. And that's how you know who won.” –Al Capone, The Untouchables

It’s finally here! The 2007 Linfield College football season will kickoff this Saturday at 6 PM in Monmouth as our Linfield Wildcats will lock claws with the Wolves of Western Oregon.

If you want a great breakdown of what each team has in their arsenal then you should read each team’s press release. You can find the Linfield one here: Push comes to shove and you can find the WOU press release here: Wolves top one Cat, another arrives Saturday.

What I’m going to write about are a few areas of the game that I think are key in order for the ‘Cats to walk away with the win.

Tackle, Tackle, Tackle

It’s one of the most important aspects of any game and if Linfield wants to increase their chances on Saturday then the ‘Cats are going to have to do a great job in the tackling department. WOU starting running back, Soph. Ben Kuenzi, reminds me of a UWW Justin Beaver type of back. He has the ability to makes some quick cuts in traffic in the zone scheme but he’s at his best at first contact. Time after time versus Willamette it seemed that Kuenzi was able to turn out extra yardage when a Bearcat defender put a shoulder on him. Those extra 2-3 yards are killer when trying to slow a offense down and Linfield’s defense has to do a great job on converging on Kuenzi and limiting those effort yards.

Linfield Wide Outs vs WOU’s Defensive Backs

When you really get down to it this might be the biggest match up of the game, sans the WOU D-line/Linfield O-Line. Our wide outs just have to get the job done on Saturday night in order for us to win. We have an exceptional receiving corp and WOU’s defensive backs are not slouches. This group of ‘Cats need to make the simple and tough plays in order for us to win this game.

WOU’s Defensive Front vs Linfield’s Offensive Line

Make no mistake this is where Linfield was really hurt in the 2006 game. The WOU defensive front did a number all night long on the ‘Cats front line. It hamstrung our offense in the worse way because if you’re a passing team you need to be able to give the QB time to make his decision.

WOU is bringing back that same group up front and the worse news is that they’ve added a defensive end transfer from the Oregon Ducks, Victor Filipe. The good news for Linfield in looking at our offensive front is that we’re very talented but just inexperienced under game circumstances.

It’s no secret that this will be a huge storyline of Saturday’s game. Linfield has very good skill kids but will we have time to deliver them the ball?

Bottom Line: It’s going to be a close game that will be decided by a small margin. I would be very surprised if one team ran away from the other. I think WOU’s offense will miss Boss, Vinzant, and slot Knudsen much more than that anticipated and I like Linfield to come away with a close and very hard fought win. Cats by 3.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Saturday Thoughts:

I know I said I’d be back on Sunday to give a run down on Saturday’s activities but responsibilities took priorities and I had a few things to take care of on Sunday. So here I am all settled down on Monday evening reflecting on the start of the college football season.

Scrimmage Saturday:

It would be great to give you a detailed report on all the happenings of the scrimmage but I had the great pleasure of running into a number of familiar faces and spent the great majority of my time catching up with some great Linfield fans. However, when I did turn my head to the field what I saw was a field littered with speed. We’re not going to outsize a WOU but I’m very excited about the athleticism of the offensive/defensive backs and linebackers.

The obvious great unknown is the play of the offensive line and we’re going to find out really quickly how they measure up in week 1. In getting an up close look at the line during the scrimmage I saw some very good things but I also understand there are still some adjustments to be made. If our big bodies are able to provide Trevor the time to make his decisions then we’re going to be in great shape.

WOU/Willamette Thoughts:

Mrs11 and I made the trip later that day out to Monmouth to watch the Bearcats get pushed around by WOU. The thing that jumped out at me immediately was the defensive line play of WOU. They’re very athletic and don’t waste very much time getting to the ball. In terms of the Western offense, they did what I expected them to do for the most part in terms of being a balanced attack. They ran their zone run scheme that got the Wolves big bodies on the Bearcats and let a hard running RB do his work while a 3 step/roll out/play action passing attack keep the chains moving down the field.

In terms of Willamette. They didn’t quit on one play the whole night. I really like the Bearcats linebackers and their defensive backs had great stretches of play. If Saturday is an indication then Willamette is going to be a tough game in the NWC this year. Coach Speckman has a team full of kids that compete hard.

What did surprise me is that I’ve been reading about WOU’s depth at running back but the Wolves basically hook up their trailer to Sophomore Ben Kuenzi and ran him all night long. I didn’t know if the WOU staff was sandbagging but it just seem odd that they’ve talked all camp about 4 very good RB’s but just go with the one guy for 95% of the snaps.

We’ll talk more about WOU/Linfield later this week but the key match-up is obvious at this point: WOU’s Defensive Line/Linfield’s Offensive Line. My initial thought is that Saturday is going to be a hotly contested battle but I think Linfield will be a better prepared team this time around. I wish it was Saturday right now.