I knew it was officially football season when I woke up on Tuesday morning and my exposed feet where freezing cold. Yup, there is a chill in the morning, we had some rain showers in the valley over the weekend, and our apples in the backyard are about ready to be picked. The shift in the season lets me know it’s here….Linfield football. Darn happy to have you back old friend.
It’s no secret that the ‘Cats once again start off another campaign with a highly touted and explosive opponent. The #4 Hardin-Simmons Cowboys will be headed out from WEST TEXAS (I’ve learned from the HSU fans that whenever you write “WEST TEXAS” you have to use all caps) to the great Pacific Northwest to wrap up what has been a hotly contested 4 game series. So far each team has defended their home turf as the 2-1 HSU series leads would indicate. Every Linfield fan is hoping that trend continues this Saturday.
I can state enough that while the season is 9 games long, this my friends is a huge game on multiple levels. Not only is this versus a ranked opponent but against another team with high expectations in regards to their conference title and making a deep playoff run. There is not going to be a distinct advantage for either team in terms of size or speed. When it gets down to it the difference is going to be who executes better and which team is going to make the plays they need to.
Get to Know a HSU Player: #4 ZaVious Robbins (Sr. SB 5-10, 160lbs)
Last year, we ran the “Know Your Foe” segment where we gave a run down of each college or university's mascot so to change things up we’ll pick out a player the ‘Cats will be facing off in the upcoming week. We decided to pick up Justin Feaster’s main target and playmaker, ZaVious Robbins.
Hometown: Mesquite, Tx.
High School: Mesquite
Music of Choice: T.I. and he loves Lil’ Wayne
Movies of Choice: National Security and the “Friday” movie series (WC11 has watched Friday about 100 times, great 90s flick)
TV shows of Choice: Fresh Price of Bel Air, Martin, and Jamie Foxx (Z-Man should have been a 90's child.)
Books of Choice: None “I hate reading” (WC11 gives props to Z-Man for being honest. In fact, I can't remember the last book I read. Pretty sad but it's true)
His Heroes: His Father and Barry Sanders
Future Goals: To take over his father’s business and/or start his own business to help high school athletes get recruited to college.
Z-Man’s 2007-08 Highlights via YouTube:
Info From ZaVious’s MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/zavious
Just by checking out Z-Man's info seems like a kid I would get along with really well. He loves 90's TV and movies, holds his father up in high regard, and wants to help out others when he finishes College. He seems like a real solid kid...too bad that I'm hoping the 'Cats shut him down on Saturday!
Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory:
-Limit HSU’s big plays: Hardin-Simmons is very capable of slugging together grind it out drives but they are still a big play offense. About 20% of the Cowboys offensive plays vs. Whitworth where for plays of 15 yards or more. The ‘Boys had 6 plays for 14-20 yards and 6 plays of 20+ yards. In fact 4 out of 7 HSU touchdowns this past Saturdays were plays of 25, 29, 14, and 39 yards. Linfield has to be of the mindset that if HSU is going to score they are going to have to march it down and punch it in. Nothing Cheap.
-Wildcat playmaking: The biggest missing piece from last year’s team was the ability to hit big plays. The ‘Cats need for playmakers to rise up on both sides of the ball right out of the shoot and create offensive/defensive points for the ‘Cats. I truly believe that there are a number of current ‘Cats on the roster capable…we’ll see who gets it done.
-Win the turnover battle: Two Linfield early turnovers equaled 14 of HSU’s 29 points last year. We can’t lose possessions versus this team. It’s pretty simple…win the turnover battle and your chances of winning greatly improve. It’s science.
-Balanced Offense: This is year two in the spread offense for Linfield and I’m hopeful that we’ll see marked improvement in the understanding and execution of the scheme. I really believe that the ‘Cats need both the running and passing attack to keep a much improved HSU defense off balanced and guessing. If the offense can execute the way I believe they can then there is no reason why they won’t be productive this Saturday.
-Total Team Effort: There is not a single reason why Linfield cannot win this game. Yeah, HSU has a high ranking but we know there is no gap in talent across each line up. However, Linfield does have a number of new parts in all three phases of the game that have to meet the challenge the ‘Cowboys will present head on. Last year, I thought the ‘Cats came out flat vs HSU before getting into the rhythm of the game. This year, we’re at the ‘Catdome and they are flying out with a travel roster. The ‘Cats have to exploit that advantage to its fullest. I’m NOT saying the ‘Cats have to come out wound up too tight but our squad has to be mentally and physically ready to compete at a high level.
-Cats by 7. Of course I’ve got my Wildcat’s back but they are going to have to earn it. HSU has a game under their belt and playmakers all over the field. If Linfield’s defense is able to force HSU off the big plays then I really like the ‘Cats chances in slugging it out and winning this baby. There is a lot on the line for both teams and I suspect both will bring their “A” game to the ‘Catdome. Can’t wait!