And here we are once again my friends. For the 2nd time in three years and 3rd time in 13 games the Linfield Wildcats will face off against the Kingsmen and defending SCIAC champions from California Lutheran University. The teams have split the last two meetings during the past 12 months with Linfield hammering CLU in the opening round of the 2009 playoffs by a count of 38-17, while CalLu upset the 'Cats to open up this season down in Thousand Oaks win a wild 47-42 victory. Needless to say it's been punch/counter-punch by these two squads who are both anxious to get a hold of one another once again. It should be a heated and physical contest at the 'Catdome (kickoff is Saturday at Noon).
For many Linfield fans they have been talking about revenge but then CLU turns it around and talks about avenging their opening round playoff loss a year ago but let's not be silly; If you can't get fired up for a playoff game vs a worth opponent at this point then you might need to get your pulse checked. Yeah, the "revenge" factor might add a little spice to the game but the bottom line the team that will win this Saturday is the team that can execute their game plan better and do the little things right as in tackling, blocking, making good decisions with the ball, etc, etc. When you strip away all of the bravado and posturing it comes down to who is willing to play at a high level for a full 60 minutes and win the little battles on the field to propel their team to victory when the clock strikes 00:00.
Get To Know A Wildcat
Chris Slezak, #23, Senior - Wide Receiver
Hometown: Salem, Or
High school: West Salem High School
Favorite Place in Mac to eat: 3rd Street Pizza
Favorite Music: Hip Hop
Favorite TV Show: The Office
Do you have a Friday night before game ritual?: Go out for a WR & QB dinner, even though coach Elliot and Yen stopped coming and we miss them... Then get all my game gear ready that night before bed while watching The Office
Favorite Pro Football Team: Denver Broncos baby... cant believe we passed on Dez Bryant this last year though
Class you look forward to the most at Linfield: Reporting
Mac or PC: Been a Mac for 6 years now, never going back
What's is your CPU homepage set to: Google...probably should be Facebook or ESPN though
Xbox, PS3, or Wii: Xbox... Xbox is like the Nike to PS3's Adidas
Favorite road trip: Willamette. Being from Salem it's always fun to go back home and play there
Least Favorite road trip: Menlo... the only exciting thing about that trip is driving past Stanford on our way to the field
Favorite Movie that Coach Smith has picked for a bus ride home: His son's and daughter's little league baseball and softball highlight tape
Favorite Coach Rombach Saying: Anything that contains the letter "L"... for example - "place the ball in the middo (middle) of the field! No drop balls this week, thats our number one go (goal). Backside of totem is deeso (diesel).
Who has the best BBQ skills on the team: I wanted to say not a chance, but thinking back over the year I wanna say that have had 10 balls thrown to them and caught all 10. So they could be in the discussion. But c'mon, this is what we do for a living. Not true.
Wildcat11's Keys to Victory:
Linfield Football for a full 60 minutes. This is what ultimately killed us in the September game. CLU played better and stronger as the game went into the deeper stages of the contest and Linfield didn't. That is a rare thing to happen to Linfield and it cannot happen again if the 'Cats expect to advance. Let me emphasize...we don't have to play perfect, mistakes happen, but it's how the 'Cats deal with that adversity and how this team is ready both schematically and emotionally for the game. Don't get caught up in the hooping and hollering but just focus on executing your own assignments to the best of your ability.
Keep CLU's defensive line and LBs off of Boehme and out of the backfield. CLU's defensive line will once again be the best D-line we will have played on the year; better than Willamette's, PLU's, and Whitworth's. The 'Cats offensive line and RBs have a huge challenge in the pass protection game and will be a key factor on Saturday. We all know if Boehme has time, him and our standout WR core is going to make plays.
Have to take away the Kingsmen rushing attack. While Daniel Mosier is no longer on the CLU roster that doesn't mean CLU can't run the ball. If Linfield is thinking that then we have another thing coming. Junior Transfer, Deme'Trek Chambers (5'8", 160 lbs) has stepped in as the primary running back for CLU and has been stellar in rushing for 782 yards (84.8 yards a game) and 13 TDs. The real star isn't the running back but the large and athletic offensive line for CLU. That's where the rubber is going to meet the road for the 'Cats defense. Linfield's D-Line has to hold the L.O.S. in order for our LB's and DB's to make plays in the running game.
Special teams needs to get it done. This is where Linfield's special teams can have a HUGE impact. Linfield absolutely has to be the better team in kick coverage, set up the offense with good field position in the return game, and not put the Offense or Defense in bad spots with mistakes. CLU has two stand-out kickers so we have to be sharp in returning the ball and the Kingsmen have a number of guys that can break off big returns. While special teams don't get much play this group can have a huge sway on Saturday.
Take care of the rock. I don't need to get into detail here but it's pretty simple...if we take care of the ball then our opportunity to win is much greater. It's not rocket science. Secure the ball but don't be afraid to make plays.
Linfield Linebackers need to shine. Huge day and opportunity for our LB's to have a major impact on the game. With such a balanced offensive attack the 'Cats linebacker core have a major task on their hands in handling the run and taking care of pass coverage underneath. I'm looking for this group to have a big day.
No big plays for Eric Rogers and the CLU WR core. The CLU Wide Receiver core has some stand out playmakers and Eric Rogers is their #1 go-to guy. If CLU is going to get off in the passing game lets make it underneath and nothing over the top for big plays.
'Cats by 10. CLU is no joke but I believe that if Linfield plays to their potential then the 'Cats are winning this game. All three phases of the Wildcat attack need to perform and lean on each other but I love the way this team has been playing and I believe we have too many weapons for CLU to cover and our defense has made significant improvement in the areas that hurt us during the first go around. If nothing crazy happens during the course of the game then our Linfield Wildcats will be packing their bags and headed to the Twin Cities for the 2nd round.