(Trevor Patterson Photo Coutsey of: Brad Thompson's 2009 Linfield Football Photos)
Now that was a heck of a performance. Watching Linfield come out, weather the storm, and then take complete control of Saturday’s game vs. #4 ranked Hardin-Simmons was thing of beauty. The 37-22 victory snapped a 3-year opening game losing streak for the ‘Cats (Yeah, I know that is hard to believe but Linfield hasn't exactly been opening with the Pomona-Pitzer’s of the small college football world.) I have to be honest and say that I knew Linfield had the talent and coaching to get it done but I had a question in my mind in just how all of these unproven but talented pieces would fit at kickoff. Needless to say the pieces on Saturday fit pretty darn well.
The frustrating thing for the ‘Catdome the past 3 seasons is that Linfield has been “this close” to winning the NWC title and making a return trip to the NCAA’s. 2006 and 07 I think the ‘Cats turned over the ball to Whitworth about 47 times and still had a shot to win those NWC titles games in the last few moments and then we had the 4th quarter meltdown vs a very good Willamette team last season. But there was just something totally different about the air of believe from this group of ‘Cats on Saturday. They were not too loose or wound too tight but instead they were just at the right tension. Like an old wind up watch just ticking along at a precise and steady pace. (I know all of you old Linfield players have heard the Watch analogy dozens of times) .
The win is an excellent start to the season but not to get all coach-speak here but one game doesn’t mean much if you come back and lay an egg the next week down in what is going to be a heck of battle vs Occidental. Catdomealumni.com will be headed down to LA to take in the action and load up on some In and Out Burgers. Enough of me blabbing away, let’s get to Catdomealumni.com’s “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” of Satruday’s victory.
Game Plan Execution. The Linfield players did an incredible job in their game plan execution. Bottom line is that they played as a unit in all three phases of the game, overcame any hiccups, and just wore out and beat up a tough Hardin-Simmons team.
Team Defense. As a former defensive player old WC11’s chest was puffed up with pride after seeing the amount of toughness and pride the defense played with on Saturday. The Linebacking core delivered the leadership, covered well, and kept Feasters scrambling to a minimum once he broke the D-Line’s containment. The defensive line was missing a few potential starters, had a few guys get banged up during the contest, but the players that came in, rose to the challenge and that is something Coach Smith always asks the players that may not be starters: “When you get your opportunity to play, what are you going to do with it?” I think there were some young ‘Cats that proved they are game ready.
Young Secondary steps up. What an opening test for this group as they faced off against one of the best QBs/WR groups in Division III. While HSU did complete 22 of 29 passes, HSU never hit the big play in the air and were picked off twice. This group will get better each week but this sums it up. I saw a former standout cornerback from the 2003-05 Linfield teams towards the end of the game. We chatted for a minute and he said “I’ve heard all summer about how much talent this young group of DBs has and I didn’t know if I should believe it. Well, I’ll tell you what…they are freaking really good. “
The Entire Offensive Unit. WC11 could easily break this down and give kudos to the offensive line, wide receivers, running backs, quarterback, but instead I’ll just point to the whole group and commend them for their play. The group ran 66 offensive plays with 34 rushing attempts and 32 passing attempts. That is the offensive balance that is going to make this group very dangerous and keep opposing defenses off balanced. I loved the way the O-line played, the running backs did an excellent job of being physical and finishing runs, the WR core MADE PLAYS, and Boehme showed why so many folks around the program believe in his leadership and ability. Just a great job.
None this week. I’m sure there are plenty of areas where the ‘Cats staff is going to see and want to improve upon but there was no glaring bad points in Linfield’s performance and I’m not going to be nit-picky.
HSU injuries. Linfield and Hardin Simmons have played against each other for 4 straight years and that series ended on Saturday. I’ve grown to have a strong respect of the Cowboys and the operation that Coach Keeling runs. They play fast hardnosed football and you have appreciated that. That’s why I was saddened to see HSU’s QB Justin Feasters go down late in the 3rd quarter with an apparent right shoulder injury and that HSU’s starting slot, ZaVious Robbins, also left the game early with a knee injury. Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game and Linfield did sustain some banged up Wildcats too. I just hated to see these fine players not be able to see this game through to the end and the Catdome wishes them a speedy and full recovery.
Trevor Patterson Photo Coutsey of: Brad Thompson's 2009 Linfield Football Photos
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