Wednesday, November 4, 2009

'Cats Win! Linfield clinches a share of the NWC Title and locks up an NCAA bid.

(Photo by Brad Thompson: View Brad's 2009 Linfield photos here)

The 'Cats got it done on Saturday with a 54-36 victory over the Puget Sound Loggers. Yeah, the 'Cats gave up a ton of points to what had been up to that point a bad offense. I guess all of my poking fun at UPS's offense came back to bite the 'Cats in the rear. So all of you frusturated Linfield fans can pin it on me for bringing bad karma to the 'Cats.

But lets take a step back and look at the big picture here. Linfield clinched a piece of the Northwest Conference title (33rd title overall) and with PLU's loss to Whitworth, Linfield also clinched the NWC's autobid to the NCAA Division III playoffs (21st post season appearance). What a great accomplishment for this year's team to be 8-0 and on the brink of clinching the program's 12th 9-0 season since 1896 (1961, 74, 80, 82, 84, 86, 92, 2000, 02, 03, 04). This team has the chance to do something rather remarkable and it has to feel even better knowing that there were folks worried if Linfield would be able to win 5 games this year when the season kicked off. Now we're talking about just how deep could this team go in the NCAA's.

But before we start talking about Lutes and playoffs let's take a look back at a game that the offense shined but the defense would rather just forget.

The Good

505 yards of total offense. UPS committed to slowing down the 'Cats running game so Linfield turned to the air where Linfield sliced and diced the Loggers for 409 yards through the air. After getting to watch the film of the game the Linfield offense just had their way with UPS and I continue to love just how diversified the offense has become during the year. Last week, Linfield punished Willamette on the ground, this past Saturday, the 'Cats killed UPS in the air. Great work

8 different 'Cats with receptions: Great work by Linfield quarterback Aaron Boehme and the receiving corp/RB's. Trevor Patterson continues to have a stellar year catching the rock and but the WR's are not lacking in other threats catching the ball.

Aaron Boehme: Look, I don't like to single out players in these sections very often because we all know it's a team game and all the players play a part in the successes/outcome of the game but I do have to mention the play of our quarterback. Boehme just keeps getting better and better and I'll say it without hesitation, he's one of the elite QB's in Division III.

The Bad:

Puget Sound Starting field position after kickoffs: UPS38, UPS33, UPS26, UPS40, Lin47, UPS40, UPS37, UPS43, UPS45. That's was the UPS starting field position after each Linfield kickoff. After a great week in the kickoff/coverage vs Willamette we came back with this stinker. That is just not going to get it done and if we don't improve in this area we're not doing our defense any favors by allowing teams short fields to work with.

0-2 Field Goals: I know we took some longer shots (39 yard miss and 42 yard miss) but we need be able to get it done from 40 yards in. The playoffs are just around the corner and having the ability to get 3 on the board is going to be a huge key in the 'Cats success.

Attendance of 1,728: Pathetic Catdome family. I'm responsible too because I was working on Saturday but that is a Willamette fan base type of effort for a team ranked #5 in the country and that has been on a roll. Yeah, I know the Linfield fans took over the Catdome Capital last week in Salem and I could see why some skipped out on the game vs a 0-7 UPS team but that is still a horrible effort from a traditionally great fan base. In watching the film it seems like the Catdome fan base was just flat and if you don't think that doesn't effect the players then you're crazy.

There is no reason we shouldn't be able to crack 3,000 for the season finale vs long time and our historical rival Pacific Lutheran. Does Linfield have to go all UW-Whitewater and start handing out free tuition or having 60's night? I hope we don't have to have gimmick promotions to get people out to watch one of the top Division III programs in the country. So what's it going to be Linfield fans...are you going to show or be a fair-weather/nice-weather Wildcat fan?

The Ugly

Do I really need to say it? The defensive kids and coaching staff are harder on themselves more than any of us fans could be in regards to giving up 36 points to Puget Sound. Give Credit to UPS for coming down and getting it done on offense but I'm not going to spend much more space here jumping on the defense. The 'Cats defense has been great all-year long and I'm not going to let one off day condemn a season's worth of shutting down teams and coming up with huge plays. The staff and players will chalk it up this and next week and get if figured out. I you?

***Note From WC11: The 2005 team would be on that list of teams to go 9-0 during the regular season but that was the year that L&C canceled their NWC games and left the NWC and Linfield short one game on the season. 2005 Linfield finished the regualr season 8-0.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I realize you weren't at the game, but calling it for the student radio station, one thing we kept harping on was the field position. The kicking game did not look good. That taken, the coverage teams did an OK job considering they didn't get much time to get down before the ball was being fielded.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with the kicking game not looking good. This is going to kill Linfield in the playoffs if something is not done to correct it. Out of all the recruiting we dont have someone that can kick it deep ? or even to the 20 yard line, come on !