Photo Courtesy of Brad Thompson. View Brad's 2011 Linfield Photo Gallery Here.
After an uneven start in the 1st half the 'Cats push down on the gas petal and overwhelmed the Leopards of La Verne with a 52-3 victory. With the win the 'Cats moved to 2-0 on the young season and that sets up a giant NWC season opener down in Salem as the 'Cats will make the 30 minute drive to face a strong Willamette Bearcat team on October 1st. However, let's talk about Saturday. There are still some areas I'm concerned about and that Linfield must improve upon if this team wants to be in position to achieve the goals this group feels they can obtain. On the flip side, there are some flat out fantastic aspects of this team and they've flexed their muscle over the past two games.
It's exciting to see just the overall athleticism of the team. Linfield has speed and athletes all over the field. Yeah, We're young in spots but the pure effort and speed of our youth has help made up for the lack of college experience. I still believe Linfield is 3 or 4 weeks away from hitting on their full stride as a team. The Linebackers are going to improve each time out and the offense is going to find itself more as we progress. As a Linfield fan, you should be licking your chops at the possibilities of what this team could look like around week 6 or 7 if the 'Cats keep putting in the work.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Linfield Passing Game: The 'Cats threw the ball for 299 total yards and 5 touchdowns on the day. Starting QB Mickey Inns completed 66% of his passes, 210 yards, 3 TDs, and looks in command of the offense. Josh Yoder also looked solid in the 3rd and 4th quarters tossing 2 touchdowns. 5 different WR's caught touchdown passes and 8 total Wildcats hauled in passes on the day. A very good day for this 'Cats passing attack.
Special Teams just getting it done: It was a LONG day at the office for the La Verne return men. The 'Cats Hit Squad was handing out huge hits like it was candy. Along with the cover men the 'Cats kickers; Josh Repp, Josh Kay, and Jordan Walker once again impressed with their ability to pin La Verne deep. Love the approach of this phase of the 'Cats attack and hope they can continue to perform at the level of play they have shown over the past two games.
Pass coverage and QB pressure: The 'Cats piled up 6 quarterback sacks on the day and you have to give a tip of the hat to the defensive backs for providing the coverage that made La Verne's Thomas Arguello hang onto the ball a little bit longer than he wanted which led to Arguello getting a good view of the Pacific NW sky.
Red Zone Offense: In the 'Cats 1st game the red zone offense turned it over twice and landed on WC11's bad list. This week, the execution in the red zone was fantastic as the 'Cats converted on all 6 of their red zone trips (5 TD's, 1 FG). Being efficient in the Red Zone has to continue to be a high priority of this offense as the 'Cats cannot waste trips into the red portion of the field.
Balanced Offensive Attack: 35 rush attempts and 33 pass attempts, 162 rushing yards (4.6 yards per carry) and 299 passing yards (13 yards per completion). Love the balance of the offense on Saturday.
2nd half effort: After a 1st half of play that was spotty and filled with wide open drops, dropped pics, stupid penalties, and almost getting Micky Inns' knee blown up, the 'Cats shook it off and dropped the hammer on La Verne in the 3rd to put it away. Yeah, the 'Cats had the 24-0 lead at half but it wasn't the cleanest of halves. Like the fact our 'Cats flushed it and came out with purpose.
Defense tightening down when it mattered: La Verne did get some yards piled up on the day (will be addressed below) but each time the 'Leos threaten to put points on the board, the 'Cats defense tighten down and held La Verne to 1 of 5 on 4th down and only gave up 3 points in 3 trips into the Red Zone.
Uneven 1st half effort: This is redundant but the 1st half wasn't pretty football at times. I was concerned with coming off a huge win and having the layoff the 'Cats might be a little flat. I don't know if flat is the term I would use but it was uneven with quality of play ranging from really good to plain old bad. Eventually, the 'Cats put it away but I'm being one of those crabby old timers when I write it would have been nice to seen the dagger come out a little earlier.
Allowing over 300 yards of offense/Tackling: After having a great tackling game vs CLU, the 'Cats tackling wasn't at that level this past week. The 'Cats went from handling an explosive Dan Mosier to less than 60 yards to letting some Freshman RB named Tanner rush for 92 yards and most of that was because of poor tackling. Needless to say if our tackling is poor next Saturday then we're going to be in a world of hurt.
La Verne taking the bus: Seriously, La Verne rode the bus from their L.A. campus up to McMinnville and back. That's 969 miles each way and over 18 hours each way in a crowded, stinky bus. Just imagine riding the bus that long knowing you're probably going to get caved in on Saturday afternoon and then have to take that long ride home. I know we're in Division III but I wouldn't wish that long of a bus ride on anybody playing DIII ball (even Willamette). Ugh.
The La Verne players couldn't be happy and reading their Twitter feeds...they were not:
----Leo WR, @CedircH20, was already feeling the pain after a couple of hours on the bus.
@CedricH2O: Feels like 7 hours already. Fml. Budgets suck
---This La Verne player, @Ruben_Vazquez, must have type this when he was driving north of Sacramento, because the stretch between Sac and Redding, California really does feel like the middle of nowhere.
@Ruben_Vazquez: Staring at nothing #middleofnowhere #cabinfever
----However I think @DKALLDAY55 sums up the overall feeling of riding a bus 18 hours, getting crushed, and then having to get on the bus again to ride another 18 hours back home.
@DKALLDAY55: On a f@*%^ng bus again. F&^*
---But there is a silver lining for the Leos.....at least the water was good.
@Ruben_Vazquez: One thing ill miss about Oregon is the water!!! #tastesodamgood