Let's be honest, the NWC title and playoff hopes are the biggest storyline of this game but a major underlining point is that Willamette and Linfield don't really like each other very much. The Willamette fans don't have much love for Linfield and I think the feeling is mutual when it comes from the Wildcat fan base. Yeah, many longtime Linfield fans will point to Linfield/PLU as a great rivalry and it easily the most "historic" rival of Linfield but I tend to think the admiration and respect between the fan bases of PLU/Linfield isn't there at all when it comes to Linfield and Willamette. I believe that's what makes this game all the more important to each school. Not only for the potential playoff positioning but for the bragging rights too.
The 2010 Willamette team is a very good football squad. They opened up the season with two cross country road trips where they blasted UW-Stevens Point 33-14 and took a tough loss down in Abilene, Tx to Hardin-Simmons 31-22. Willamette then opened up their home schedule by pasting a solid SOU squad 42-24 and rolled into a nice bye week where I'm sure they have been maximizing that time preparing for Linfield.
For The 'Cats we all know about the CLU game and the disappointment of the turnovers and not being able to stop the CLU rushing attack in the 2nd half. The 'Cats mended some of those issues up with a 30-3 clobbering of La Verne this past weekend but Linfield is still finding itself on offense some. There are some big questions headed into this contest from the offensive perspective: can we rush the ball effectively, protect Boehme in the pocket, and play Linfield Football for a full 4 quarters? If the 'Cats are going to have success they need to be able to come up with the answers soon.
Get To Know A Wildcat!
#17 Josh Repp, Sophomore, Punter (5-9, 165lbs.)
Favorite Place in Mac to Eat: Golden Valley, if funds permit
Favorite Movie: Hitman
Favorite Music: country
Favorite TV Show: Stan Lee's superhumans
Favorite Pro Football team: don't watch pro that much, college team is definitely Texas
Class I Most Look Forward to: Nutrition
Mac or Pc: PC
Cpu Homepage: Yahoo, i like seeing whats going on in the world before i lose my mind in facebook
Dog or Cat: Dog no doubt
Xbox, PS3, or WII: don't play video games
Favorite Coach Smith Saying: Every play our best, every play
Wildcat11 hears your are into Martial Arts What disciplines have you studied? I have done krav maga for a while now, which is a real life fighting style designed for real situational combat, I have also been doing mixed martial arts.
Favorite Discipline: Brazillian Jiu Jitsu because its designed for a smaller person to take out a larger person easily.
Teammates Choked Out? about 4 or 5 (names will remain anonymous)
Easiest teammate to make tap? a certain "sexy" d-lineman
Your Favorite Part About Playing at Linfield is? It's the companionship you build with all of your teammates
Wildcat11's Keys To Victory:
Full 60 minutes of Linfield Football: The 'Cats need to play and be invested on Saturday for the full 60 minutes of the contest. Not a quarter, not a half, but be mentally ready to play Linfield football for 60 minutes. Does Linfield have to be perfect? Nope, and I don't think either Linfield or Willamette expects to play "perfect" on Saturday. However, what I'm expecting is perfect effort and desire from Linfield for a full 60 minutes.
Limit The Fly Sweep: It's playing against Willamette 101. If you don't limit the effectivness of the fly sweep then you might as well pack it in. Sophomore Terrell Malley and WU's other flankers have been very effective running the sweep this season. The 'Cats need to put a premium on limiting both the Bearcats outside and inside hitting fly sweeps.
Run The Football effectively and with force: This is where the rubber meets the road for the 'Cats offense. WU's base defense is a 4-3 but expect to see a lot of 3 man fronts and a lot of DB's trying to keep everything in front of them. It's been Willamette's bend but don't break defense and the 'Cats offensive line and running backs need to make 'em pay when they see those 3 man fronts.
Unload Schoettgen: The Senior WR, Scott Schoettgen, has been a thorn in the 'Cats side for the past two seasons. Whenever Willamette needed a big passing strike from the offense they just get the ball up Schoettgen and he would go up and get it. The 'Cat need to not let WU get Schoettgen the ball over the top of the defense and jump balls in the End Zone.
Allow Boehme to keep his eyes downfield: No doubt Willamette is going to try to pressure through out the game but I'm suspecting the Bearcats defense will throw a change-up and try to take away Boehme's scrambling out of the pocket. If that's the case then the line and running backs have to create time that allows our guy to find targets downfield.
Be great tacklers: I've talked about honoring the fly sweep and paying attention to Schoettgen but you can't stop there. The Bearcats have very good running backs and QB's that can run the ball. The fly gets you spread out and it puts a premium on the defense's ability to make one-on-one plays between the tackles. The better we can be square on the ball and not arm tackle the more chance Linfield can limit WU's big plays.
Be Special on Special Teams: With two very evenly matched teams the momentum of these types of games can turn faster than a snap of the fingers with Special Teams play. The 'Cats Special Teams can make a huge impact statement on this game but they need to be on alert because Speckman isn't afraid to gamble in this phase of the game with fakes, etc, from any spot on the field.
Linfield by 3. Our Wildcats and WU's Bearcats will be in a dogfight this Saturday. The weather is going to be perfect, the 'Catdome is going to be electric, and the emotion is going to be high. Linfield just needs to stay within themselves, trust in each other, and play good solid Linfield football. Willamette is a good football team but there is no reason why Linfield won't win this game if the 'Cats execute their game plan. It won't be easy but I'm feeling a Wildcat victory. Go 'Cats!