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The 1st five teams the 'Cats played have a total combined record of 8-19 and looking at the next four games, the 'Cats upcoming opponents have a combined record of 15-7. The 'Cats have a pivotal game against a defensively strong PLU this weekend. Then, have two long road trips vs Menlo (who's on the bye and has 2 weeks to prepare for Linfield) and at Whitworth. Last, the 'Cats wrap up the season at home versus a sound Lewis & Clark team. This regular season isn't in the bag for the 'Cats and in order to get to that level Linfield has been talking about they need to come correct over the next 4 weeks to prove they're worthy of being in this season's elite of Divison III. Now isn't the time to feel fat and happy. Now is the time to get to work.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
1st half offense: Actually the 1st half and 1st possession of the 2nd half was very good. The 'Cats scored on 3 of their first 4 possessions and should have been 4 out of 4 if the 'Cats didn't drop a wide open TD on 4th down at the end of the half. The 1st half was funky with combination of the 'Cats special teams striking twice, Linfield extending two Boxer drives with dumb penalties, and Pacific's very deliberate slow pace. When the 'Cats did manage to get the ball, the offense did what they wanted for the most part in putting up 477 yards of total offense on the day.
Special Teams: Again, another great day for the 'Cats special teams unit. A blocked punt for a touchdown on back-to-back weeks, an 86 yard kickoff return to the house, and nice play during the contest by most aspects of the 'Cats special teams. This unit continues to shine weekly for Linfield.
No touchdown allowed: 2nd time this season the 'Cats haven't allowed a touchdown and the 1st time all season Pacific didn't reach the end zone. Linfield didn't make it easy on themselves with blowing a few big blitzes, some poor tackling at times, and giving up some big chunks in the air. However, when push came to shove the 'Cats shut down Pacific and kept them from pay dirt.
0 Sacks...again: Great job by the 'Cats offensive line and running backs in the pass protection game. The 'Cats have only given up 2 sacks on the season and have provided the Linfield quarterbacks with plenty of time to strike. The protection has improved greatly from the 1st two weeks of the season.
0 Turnovers: Any game you don't turn the ball over probably puts yourself in a good position to win and Linfield has kept the turnovers down to just 5 on the season. The 'Cats currently sit with a +8 takeaway/turnover ration. The bigger you can make that "+" number the better season you're going to have. FACT
Drew Fisher: "Fish" isn't the type of player to bring attention to himself and doesn't care to be singled out but I have to tip my cap to the 'Cats All-American Safety. #4 just turned in a fine performance on Saturday in turning in 11 tackles, returned the blocked punt for TD (nice block Kyle Wright), had a pick, 3 tackles for loss and one of those was a bone jarring sack that made everyone in the stadium cringe. Fisher was a force for Linfield and showed why he's one of the Nation's finest.
Penalties: Oh man. This was a big challenger to win this week's "Ugly". Linfield came into the game being the least penalized team in the NWC with a total of 21 on the season. Linfield racked up 9 hankies in the 1st half alone and 10 on the day that cost the 'Cats 96 yards. 2 of those flags directly led to extend Pacific drives and both of the Boxers field goals. The penalties where the sign of how sloppy and unfocused the overall play of the 'Cats were at times and it wasn't great.
Red Zone miscues: Yes, the 'Cats scored TD's on 3 of the 5 trips to the red zone but the overall execution at times was uneven at best. Linfield allowed Pacific to make plays in the backfield when trying to run the ball and the 'Cats dropped a wide open TD and couldn't make a play on another 4th down fade pass.
Rushing Game: Linfield rushed for only 96 yards as a team. Granted, the 'Cats were getting 4 yards a rush but the 'Cats are going to need a better effort in running ball over the next 4 weeks vs some stingy defenses. I'd love to see the 'Cats get back to more balance.
Tackling: This is mainly on the LB's and D-Line. The 'Cats front 6 could have turned in a better performance on breaking down on some wide open stunts and blitzes but instead were so intent on the kill shot they just flew by and allowed Pacific to extend the play or reel off big chunks of yards.
Not making plays on the ball: Linfield's pass defense played well enough but there was 3 instances of Boxers getting past the 'Cats on deep balls and striking on plays of 45, 47, and 27 yards. The 'Cats had multiple opportunities to make plays on the ball but just didn't get it done and this group is too good to let that happen.
Flat 'Cats: We've already covered this up above. For whatever reason, the 'Cats were flat on Saturday and that's the only time Linfield will be able to get away with it and not suffer the consequences. However, Saturday is over and done with. This Linfield team will move on and grow from the experience. I'm very excited about this upcoming four game run. We're going to find out a lot in terms of how good this team can be. Wildcat11 thinks they've yet to hit their stride and full potential, and when they do, the rest of the NWC and the nation better look out.