Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Game 9 Preview: Linfield (8-0, 5-0 NWC) vs Lewis & Clark (7-1, 4-1 NWC)

Last game of the regular season and it could be any bigger. It’s for all the marbles and as a football fan that’s all you can ask for. Linfield and Lewis and Clark will be locking up at the ‘Catdome with the automatic playoff bid on the line and that tells you exactly the importance of this game. Linfield did clinch a share of the NWC title last Saturday with the ‘Cats victory over Whitworth and Lewis and Clark’s loss vs Willamette. However, for each team, sharing a title doesn’t really matter. It’s all about winning the head-to-head game and earning the right to represent the NWC in the playoffs.

For Lewis and Clark, people around the conference knew they would be improved but to those outside of the program nobody saw the Pios headed into the last two weeks of the year at 7-0. You can talk about a soft schedule if you want but the Pio players played who was in front of them and have beaten them all until last week vs Willamette. The Pioneers are lead by their explosive Sophomore Quarterback Keith Welch and their 20 starting upperclassmen (12-13 seniors, 7-8 Juniors) that make for the most experienced and veteran starting lineups in the NWC. The Pioneer offense is the real deal. They spread you out sideline to sideline and have a nice scheme to get the ball into their playmakers hands and pile up the yardage. While the L&C defense have given up points (31.9 ppg) throughout the season the Pio defense has shown the ability to make the big play on defense in the form of sacks (24), solid 3rd down defense (only allowing 37% conversions), or creating turnovers (16 turnovers gained to only 7 lost). These are not the paper thin Pioneers of years past. They have talent, they have a good scheme, and they will make you pay if you allow them the opportunity.

This is going to be a big challenge for Linfield. After two weeks of up and down play on the road people are going to be very curious to see what Linfield brings to the table on Saturday. Are they going to be the sharp Wildcat team that scored big wins over CLU/Willamette and handed out beat downs to UPS, Pacific, La Verne, and PLU? Or are they going to be the squad that had parts of their game not rolling as was the case down at Menlo and this past week at Whitworth? The answer the Wildcats provide is going to go a long ways in deciding this Saturday’s contest.

Get To Know A Wildcat
#37 Stephen Nasca, Junior, Running Back

Favorite Place in Mac to Eat: Ribslayer or the Thai Country, both are delicious.

Favorite Movie: It’s really bad but it would definitely have to be Finding Nemo, the only movie I can watch over and over.

Favorite Music: Lupe Fiasco all day every day.

Favorite TV Show: Gotta love SportsCenter, or The Wire. (this is WC11's all-time favorite scene from The Wire (language advisory))

Favorite Pro Football team: Buffalo Bills baby. It’s been a long time coming but their finally looking good this year.

Class I Most Look Forward to: Financial Management with Romero, she’s a boss.

Mac or PC: Once you go Mac you never go back.

Cpu Homepage: CNN, I try to stay somewhat in touch with what’s happening out in the world so this helps because without it I would most likely be oblivious.

Twitter or Facebook: Facebook, It’s a really bad habit.

Car or Truck: Truck/SUV. Something that can get me up to the mountain takes preference.

Xbox, PS3, or WII: XBOX 360. Madden, Call of Duty, and FIFA are where it’s at.

Favorite Coach Smith-ism: Coach Smith’s attempts to cut back on his overuse of the term “ Does that make sense?,” by using other terms such as “Ya feel me?,” or “Yaddada mean?,” etc. Or when he incorporates popular hip-hop song lyrics into post-practice speeches.

Who's cleats are uglier? Jordy Walker's or Josh Hill's: Tough Call on this one. I would say Jordy Walker’s based off of consistency alone. Josh seems to always have a new set of freshies on constant rotation throughout the season.

Did you dress up for Halloween? If so, what was the costume: I’m going to be honest I didn’t have much time to put a costume together during the week, but I managed to put some type of Ferris Bueller costume together that night when we got home from Menlo.

Your Favorite Part About Playing at Linfield is: The relationships that I have built with the guys on this team. The feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself. The feeling of bonding together with my teammates and knowing we’re all working towards the same mutual goal of winning that Natty Championship.

Post Linfield aspirations: I’m a finance major so I want to do something exciting in the business world with it. I eventually want to be making the big bucks and working within the corporate structure of a company like Oakley, Burton, etc. With the big bucks I hopefully will be able to live a lavish lifestyle.

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory:

A Full 60 Minutes of Linfield Football: Really, this is the biggest key to victory right here. Be in the moment as a team and thrive in the spotlight. You already know what I mean when I write “60 minutes of Linfield football” that means running to the battle, doing your assignments to the best of your ability, and winning one play at a time. If the ‘Cats approach the contest with this mindset they are going to be difficult to beat.

‘Cats O-Line being a force: The ‘Cats offensive line needs to have another great day at the ‘Catdome with pass protection and running the football. Lewis & Clark will bring lots of pressure so it’s paramount for the ‘Cats to win their one-on-one battles and have great communication up front. If this group keeps Mickey upright and provide lanes for Hill and Nasca then we’re going to score a lot of points.

Be Great Tacklers: Lewis & Clark’s offense, like Willamette’s, challenges the very core fundamental of defensive football: tackling. Huge line splits, empty backfields, sideline to sideline action, and a QB who has a great feel in the pocket in when to step up or lose ground to escape pressure. If the ‘Cats have a great day in being outstanding tacklers this defense will get the job done versus a high powered offense.

WR corp having a big day: This game is prime for the ‘Cats wide receivers to bust loose. This group need to be sure handed and ready to make the big play when it’s time to go up top. The weather could be a little rough but the Wildcat receivers need to fight though possible slick conditions and haul in those deep balls to stretch out the L&C defense.

Win 3rd and 4th down: Lewis and Clark are converting their 3rd downs at a blistering 48% this season and are again at 48% on 4th down tries. You bet that L&C is going to let it all hang out this weekend and be willing to gamble and take their shots on 4th down. These will be paramount plays throughout the game.

Limit mistakes: Let’s take care of the football and keep the penalties to a minimum. That is a very simple statement that could go a long way in deciding if this will be a big Linfield win or a tightly contested game that isn’t decided until the 4th quarter.

Enjoy the moment: This is a fun Linfield team to be around. Great young people that play football the right way. Don’t lose sight of that on Saturday. Embrace the opportunity to play at home with a lot on the line and be in the moment with your teammates. Don’t let the distractions of the weeks ahead cloud what is the most important aspect of this Saturday and that’s flat getting after it.


‘Cats by 17. Listen, I’m not sleeping on Lewis and Clark. I’ve watched enough of their games (via their ustream broadcasts) to know they are very talented and pose a very strong challenge this Saturday. I just believe this Linfield team will be ready and won’t be overlooking L&C for an instant. If the ‘Cats come out with that fire and sharpness they should roll, however, if they are not sharp and making mistakes we’re going to have a major fight on our hands. The ‘Cats and I have been saying all season long “Send ‘Em Up” well…they’re now coming up. We’re just going to have to wait and see what OUR Linfield Wildcats decided to do about it. ‘Catdome!


Anonymous said...

Its time to turn it up a notch and thats what the Cats do best!

Anonymous said...

A. I like Josh's kicks, I don't know what you're all talking about haha
B. With Willamette's success last week on offense (or L&C's lack of defense) does it help at all for 'Cats to look at film of the Bearcats gashing the Pio defense because it is such a unique offense?

Wildcat 11 said...


Any game video will help just as I'm sure L&C poured over the Whitworth film in trying to find things the Rats had success with and implement them into their scheme.