Monday, September 13, 2010

‘Cats lead slips away in second half in opening season loss to Cal Lutheran.

It was a disappointing outcome on Saturday down in Thousand Oaks as our ‘Cats drop the season opener to California Lutheran 49-42. Early on it was all Linfield as the ‘Cats dominated on both sides of the ball but towards the end of the 1st half the Kingsmen offense started to find itself with a late half touchdown drive as CLU built on that moment to surge in the 2nd half to make the game into a dog fight the rest of the way. Make no mistake the ‘Cats had their chance to put the nail in the coffin in the 1st half but didn’t get it done and that came back to haunt Linfield in the worse way.

For the ‘Cats there were a LOT of positives that you can take away from the game. Linfield has a plethora of offensive weapons and put up 42 points and over 500 yards on offense vs a very athletic and physical CLU defense. The defense had a great stretches of play until that 4th quarter but all the pieces are there for the ‘Cats to have a great season and accomplish the goals this team set out to achieve. The only difference is the margin of error is now a little smaller and we get to find out the character of this team. Will they fold or will they grow, work harder, and perform like we all know they can? We’ll find out soon enough.

Let’s go to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good:

42 points and 507 yards of total offense: The ‘Cats offense showed their explosiveness with big gains on the ground and though the air. At times the ‘Cats offense was a hot knife through butter and if the Offense can continue to grow we’re going to be a force all season long.

Defensive QB Pressure: CLU’s offensive was large and athletic but the ‘Cats defense was able to tack up 6 sacks on the day and put consistent pressure on CLU for most of the contest. If Linfield can continue to have that effort during the season they are going to be a nightmare vs passing teams up front.

Linfield passing attack: Aaron Boehme and the ‘Cats put up over 360 in the passing game and 8 different Wildcats caught passes. What I was really encouraged by was the play by the inside receivers (Saxon and Henderson) and the emergence of Deidre Wiersma on the outside and his ability to make some great catches along the sideline.

Not folding the tent: When CLU went up 31-28 early in the 4th quarter the Kingsmen had all the momentum and a lesser team would have given up and just called it a day. However, Linfield answered right back to take a 35-31 lead and again when it looked like CLU salted the game away the 'Cats got within 5 with 28 ticks left on the clock and looked like the
'Cats had a chance to pull a rabbit out of the hat when Drew Fisher came out of the on-side kick pile to only have CLU rewarded the ball. I liked it that we battled to the bitter end.

The Bad:

Five Turnovers: Just can't do this if you're planning on winning football games. 3 of the turnovers were interceptions with two coming off of tipped passes but you can't justify not taking care of the ball. Ball security is paramount and Linfield needs to clean that up going forward. Winning the turnover battle was huge last year for the 'Cats and the giving up the rock yesterday hurt Linfield at some of the worse times.

Giving up 252 rushing yards: I don't have the stats right in front of me but I think the 'Cats allowed 200 rushing yards in the second half alone. Of course I could talk about Time of Possession, the heat and getting worn out but those are just excuses and the 'Cats defense knows that. Whatever the reasons were for the rushing attacking gashing our defense it needs to be resolved and I'm sure this will be a major point of discussion and work over the remainder of the season.

Inconsistent Run Game: I'd put this in the "not bad" category but it wasn't great either. The 'Cats did rush for 146 yards and 4.6 yards a rush on the day but 71 yards of that came off of one long gallop from Aaron Williams. I'd like to see the run game be able to grind it out a little better.

Allowing CLU back into the game: When you get an emotional team like CLU down you have to put them down for good and Linfield had that chance late in the 1st half but let it slip away. Obviously that came back to haunt Linfield.

The Ugly:

33 points allowed in the 2nd half: I'm not going to sugarcoat was not good at all. Credit CLU for battling back but allowing 33 points in a half of football is just downright bull-jive. From a pic six turnover to those gashing CLU runs it wasn't Linfield football and it should be upsetting to the players on the team that it happened. So there are two choices the 'Cats can make from here. They can feel bad for themselves and just sort of wallow in it or they can focus on winning football games Monday through Friday by fixing the areas that need it and focus on winning the next game on their schedule. We'll find out over the next two games what decision this Linfield team makes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice right up Ryan---I would add a few things as well:

Good: Place Kicker nailed every PAT and with some height/distance on them--an improvement from last year.

Bad: Kickoff coverage was not great which seemed to be a problem last year. Likewise--at least a couple of times we displayed a problem from last year where we would stuff the other teams Offense on 1st and 2nd down only to give up a big conversion on 3rd and long.

Ugly: Poor tackling--lots of arm tackles and guys leaving their feet. That needs to improve especially when we come up against a team like Willamette that forces a lot of open field tackles.

Just my 2 cents.