'Cats came out on fire and burned the SOU Raiders with a convincing 37-21 victory. As we've mentioned before Linfield and Southern Oregon have had some very tight and close fought games in the past. However, Saturday night was neither of those as the 'Cats opened up a huge first half lead and then proceeded to turn away SOU as the Raiders tried to make it a contest in the 2nd half.
It was just an overall good performance by the 'Cats who are in the middle of a meat grinding schedule with another long road trip. I was concerned about where the team would would emotionally after a draining trip and hard fought win in LA but Linfield was mentally sharp from the get-go. You could tell the Raiders were stunned by the 'Cats as Linfield took an emotionally charged home crowd out of the game early and Linfield never looked back.
Take Away Machine: The tone of the evening was set on the very first play from scrimmage as SOU ran a toss sweep that was met with a crushing hit by Safety Drew Fisher. The hit caused a fumble that kicked off Linfield's 6 takeaway night. The Defense really shut SOU down that first half and set up the 'Cats offense with some prime scoring chances. The salty D gets 5 "alrights" from Catdomealumni.com.
Balanced Offense: Fantastic. The offense ran 82 stinkin' plays with 42 of those being run and 40 being pass. Just outstanding. The totals of the night were 170 net rushing yards with 304 passing yards. The 'Cats really had SOU turned around all night as the Raiders were so off balanced by Linfield's spread offense that SOU is very fortunate Linfield didn't put up 50 on the night.
Defense on 3rd and 4th down: This was a category that I slotted in "The Bad" last week vs Oxy. This week the 'Cats defense only gave up 4 out of 9 3rd down conversions and blanked SOU 0-2 on 4th down. A very good turn around and effort by the 'Cats Defense.
1st Unit Defense only giving up 205 total yards: SOU had 285 yards of total offense but the Raiders racked up 80 of those yards vs our young bucks in a late 4th quarter drive. Take away that 12 play drive and SOU only had 205 total yards on 46 offensive plays. A very solid night by the defense.
Offensive Line and Williams, Abbott, and Avritt: A big question coming into the game was how the running game would be effected by the loss of starting running back, Simon Lamson, but the 'Cat backs responded with a fine performance. SOU was big, physical, and fast but the offensive line was great all night long in providing lanes for the hard running of Aaron Williams who racked up 101 net rushing yards on the night (including some highlight reel runs). Also, I think Kevin Abbott and Taylor Avritt took their opportunity to shine and made good on the chance to tote the rock. Both running backs did a good job in filling that 2nd RB spot in showing some pop with hitting the hole. Both of these backs are going to play a major role in the rushing attacking going forward.
WR core making plays: Aaron Boehme and the WR core is on the same page. No doubt about it and the 'Cats receivers were outstanding in making plays down field, diving for balls, and busting backside in blocking down field. These guys work hard and it shows. Great job boys.
Scout Team: A shout out to the 'Cats who may not get the press or PT at this point of their careers but I had multiple 'Cats comment on the great of look the scout team provided the week leading up to SOU. Scout Team is the unsung hero of the Linfield program and it has been for years. Any Scout Team'er that reads this just know that many of us former/current 'Cats know what you mean to the program and we appreciate what you guys do.
Again, this is hard because the 'Cats played very well. This is like WC11 criticizing a double cheeseburger from the Deluxe. Maybe they could have added a extra sprinkle of salt on my fires or the burger could have been more delicious. Just keep that in mind when you read my "bads" below. There are always areas to get better in...even a Deluxe burger.
Big play on Kickoff coverage: It was no secret that SOU is very good on special teams but the only offense SOU was able to produce in that first half was a big kickoff return that almost went to the house. Linfield faces some very good special teams programs in the NWC so we have to keep fine tuning this group. The rest of the night the coverage was good but Linfield should be disappointed they gave up even one big return.
Boehme's jersey was too dirty: I love our offensive line...I really do but there was too much green on Boehme's white jersey for my liking. Linfield gave up zero sacks on the night but SOU was able to put some solid hits on our QB. I understand the QB is going to get hit during a game...it's football. However, I would just like to see him get hit not as much. The O-line has permission to give WC11 dirty looks next time I'm around the 'Catdome.
Giving up the second 100 yard rusher on the season: The first half the 'Cats defense did a great job vs the SOU rushing attack but SOU was able to break free at times during the 2nd half. Baldwin is a good running back but the defense shouldn't be satisfied in giving up 145 rush yards to the Raider Sophomore. In fact this is the 2nd 100 yard rusher in 3 games the 'Cats have allowed. I would love to not see this happen during the rest of the season.
Raider Stadium's visitors sideline footing: Holy cow, I forgot just how freaking bad the visiting team's sideline is. There is a big gray canvas that covers the entire SOU visitor's sideline but what you don't see is that under that are two long jump pit area right in area of the 50 yard line. They cover the long jump pits with plywood and what you get is a broken ankle in waiting if you're not careful. Seriously, a page with braille is 100X smoother than that surface.
Raider Stadium has an awesome backdrop for football but the place needs some serious work. The visitors grandstand feels like the wood is rotting and could collapse at any moment, a once fine sod surface was in horrible shape (only after 2 previous early season home game) and then you add in that sideline situation. It's really too bad because that facility has a ton of potential to be a real small college gem but it just feels run down.