Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NCAA Playoffs Round 2 Preview: Linfield (10-0) at Wesley (10-1)

I have to tell you that it's so dang nice to be writing a Linfield game preview two weeks after the regular season ends.  Heck yes!  After the 'Cats outlasted the Kingsmen of Cal Lutheran 30-27 this past Saturday, Linfield jumped out of the West Region Power frying pan and right into the National Power fryer as the 'Cats will travel cross country and play in Dover, Delaware against the Wesley Wolverines.  You maybe asking yourself "Why is Linfield going across the country to play at a team who's lost once this year?"  I have no bloody idea but that's the decision that was made and the only thing for the Wildcats to do is embrace what is a fantastic opportunity.  Think about it for a moment.  All of the other small college players in the Pacific Northwest (Division III, Division II, NAIA) have been sitting at home the past two weeks catching up on homework, playing video games, cleaning out their locker rooms, and generally looking forward to the 2012 season while the players on the Linfield roster are still in a championship hunt.  Only 16 Division III teams out of the 236 remain and the 'Cats are once again one of them.  It's an awesome honor this team has earned with an incredible amount of hard work so why not go on across the country and play against one of D3's top programs?  Let's tee it up and see how Linfield measures up.

Wesley is a top level division program.  The Wolverines have made 4 National Semifinal trips since 2005 and boast a lofty 16-6 NCAA playoff record.  This year's Wesley's team has been equally impressive to their squads of the past as the Wolverines scores 41 ppg while only allowing 12.  They're talented, well coaches, and play very well at home.  Bottom line, this is a big challenge but Linfield has faced teams of this magnitude over the past couple of seasons (Whitewater, Mary-Hardin Baylor, St. Thomas, California Lutheran) and the 'Cats have held their own and then some.  There are an excellent football program but with only 16 teams remaining...who isn't?  It's going to be a matter of playing another full 60 minutes of Linfield football in order to get the job done and this team is built for a challenge like this.

Get To Know A Wildcat
#33 Kala'e Parish, Senior, Safety

Favorite Place in Mac to Eat: Wildwood

Favorite Movie: Role Models

Favorite Music: Reggae music!

Favorite TV Show: Jersey Shore

Favorite Pro Football team: Dallas Cowboys

Class I Most Look Forward to: Business Law I & II. I had a great professor and the subjects were very interesting.

Mac or Pc: Mac

Twitter or Facebook: Facebook

Short Board or Long Board (do you even surf?): Long board. I prefer to catch more waves rather than get more tired paddling on a short board. There's no sense in making my fun any harder.

Xbox, PS3, or WII: None, there is only Nintendo 64, Favorite Game: Super Smash Bros. I like the "old school" games, plus I like to think that I'm pretty good at this one.

Favorite Coach Fendall Saying: No particular sayings. Really enjoy his pre-game jokes before the games. Classics!

Some might know but your in a popular local band called Na Hemo. What's a bigger rush...being on stage with a good crowd or making a big play on the field? Definitely a big play on the field. I can't describe the feeling. It's that burst of adrenaline that you can't control. Playing music is more carefree and expressive. Football is all that and more.

If you had to choose one Na Hemo song to describe the 2011 Wildcats what would it be? "Coldest Zone" by J Boog "to all my soldiers who ain't afraid..." SEND EM UP

Your Favorite Part About Playing at Linfield is: Playing with a group of men who are always beside you, ready to run to the battle with you, and play with an aggressive passion for the game.

Post Linfield aspirations: Establish myself here in the mainland before moving back home to Hawaii. I'm leaning towards a possible career in sales. I thought about becoming a sports agent.

Wildcat11's Keys To Victory

Embrace the road less traveled:  It's so easy for teams that are not accustom to so much travel to let it be a distraction.    The distance, flying, time zone changes, hotels, are all easy outs for a team to point in why they fail on the road.  The 'Cats 1st step to victory this Saturday starts on Thursday as Linfield heads out to the East Coast.  The players need to enjoy the opportunity by coming together and making the most about getting to play a game on the other side the country.  Linfield likes to take the 'Catdome all around the West Coast and this is no different.  'Catdome East Coast!

Start Strong: Wesley has been a very strong 1st quarter team (outscoring opponents 104-13 on the season) so it's imperative for Linfield to run to the battle and establish themselves early as a team that is going to fight every down for 4 quarters.

Have to be able to run the ball:  Wesley's defense is only giving up 2.2 yards per rush but Linfield can't let that sway them from trying to establish Josh Hill and the Linfield rushing attack.  We've seen it time and again that if Linfield is able to be effective running the ball the 'Cats are going to be tough to beat.

Take away the Wesley rushing attack: Wesley is a very balanced offense in averaging 201 rushing yards a game and 200 passing yards a game. The 'Cats have to be able to limit one aspect of the Wesley offense and that has to be the Wolverines rushing attack. That's going to be a tall task as Wesley All-American QB Shane McSweeny is a duel-threat QB that has established himself as an electric scrambler. McSweeny might get his in running around the pocket but the 'Cats can't let Wesley's base run game get traction.

Pressure without extra bodies/don't give up big plays: The 'Cats defensive line need to have a huge day on passing downs in allowing the 'Cats to keep their nickle backs/linebackers in coverage and not having to dial up extra bodies. If the 'Cats front four can get pressure it's going to go a long way towards getting the Linfield defense off the field.

Solid Linfield pass protection: The 'Cats offensive line need to stay on a roll in keeping Mickey Inns upright. It's going to be tough as Wesley averages around 3.5 sacks per contest. I have a lot of believe in this offensive line and Saturday is a big stage to show the division what they're made of.

Solid Special Teams: If this unit can keep on playing at high gear it makes the job of the offense and defense so much easier. Wesley has a huge amount of speed but there is no reason why this group can't have a great day in coverage and in kicking the ball. This group doesn't have to put the "S" on their chest but they can have a big impact by just doing their job.


'Cats by 7. A huge game on a huge stage. This is why players come to Linfield, to play in games like this. It's simple really and cliche but this is the truth. The team that executes, takes advantages of the opportunities, and limits mistakes is going to walk away the winner this weekend and I truly feel the 'Cats have the mental toughness to push away the distractions and find a way to beat one of the divisions finest. There's going to be lows and highs on Saturday but if this team can handles both and keep doing the little things right the 'Cats are going to be there in the 4th quarter. I you?


Anonymous said...

I Wished HAPPY THANKSGIVING and "Safe Travels" to Coach Yen as he left for Linfield early this AM. To the entire Linfield squad - Please travel safely to the game in Delaware. You are our "treasure" and we will all - your loyal and devoted fans and family - be cheering for your victory on Saturday Morning. This season has been GRAND to date - you do us PROUD! Go Cats!!!!

d1shima said...

Have a safe trip and Happy Thanksgiving!