Monday, November 28, 2011

Linfield’s 2011 season ends in Delaware 49-34

 Saturday was the ultimate tale of two halves as the ‘Cats rode a big play offense and solid defense to take a commanding 27-7 halftime lead to only see Wesley storm back in epic fashion to end the ‘Cats 2011 season by the score of 49-34.  It was such a hard way to end the season as Linfield was in control of the game at half but two early 2nd half turnovers wildly swung momentum over to Wesley and once the Wolverines had the home crowd fired up, Wesley quarterback Shane McSweeny and the Wesley defense couldn’t do anything wrong as the Wesley offense made play after play and their defense bottled up an explosive Wildcat offense.   It was such a crappy feeling to watch the 2nd half unfold for our ‘Cats, not only because the season came to a close, but because that half of football was on a big stage and wasn’t truly reflective of what this 2011 Linfield football team was all about.  The 2011 Linfield Wildcats were a great football team.  Yes, those two quarters of football was downright terrible for the ‘Cats but there isn’t a single doubt in my mind this team had the goods to play for it all and I guess that’s why Saturday stings the worst.  This team had the skill, scheme, coaching, and players to make an even deeper run into the playoffs but ran into a very fine team on Saturday that rallied and made more plays to put the ‘Cats away.  You just have to tip your cap to Wesley and congratulate them on something the 10 previous opponents couldn’t do and that’s stop our ‘Cats.

That game is going to hurt for awhile but it’s ok for this to hurt.  How could it not?  The players, staff, and support people put so much into Linfield football that when you come up short of your ultimate goal it’s going to sting hard.   Coach Smith nailed it beautify after the game when he talked about this team and program “daring greatly” and brought that home by quoting an excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Citizenship In A Republic” speech that is well known as “The Man In The Arena” .  Coach Smith talked about how much he appreciates the fact this team puts it out there that the goal of this program each year is to not only play for but win a National Championship.   It’s a daring statement to make that you believe so much in what you’re doing as a program that if the team executes and performs at a high enough level during the course of the season you’ll wind up being the last team standing.  “…the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”    There are those that might snicker at that goal especially with Whitewater and Mount Union have played against each other in 6 consecutive Stagg Bowls but those are programs or people that are probably too afraid of being hurt  to ever put so much on the line.  

That’s what I think I’ll remember the most about this 2011 team.  From this past spring this team said there are other programs that want what Linfield has and since that’s the case go on and “Send ‘Em Up because the ‘Cats will be waiting” and once they’re done with them then Linfield will be onto their biggest goal.  That statement wasn’t arrogance but an attitude of confidence forged by the work and preparation the program has put in over the previous seasons.  It’s a belief system that Linfield has in place that prepared this team for the challenges of 2011 and will carry them forward through a difficult ending to what was a spectacular season.

This is a special group of young men that the Linfield community should be wildly proud of.  They handled both victory and loss with grace and dignity and we should celebrate everything they’ve accomplished on and off the field.  I’ll talk more in later posts about the numbers the 2011 ‘Cats put up and about a program changing senior class but right now I just want to thank the 2011 Linfield Wildcats for everything they’ve provided to the fans of the ‘Catdome.  You guys were not only a top rate football team but represented everything that’s right with Linfield and right about college athletics.  Please keep daring greatly on and off the field.  Send ‘Em Up!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

NCAA Playoffs Round 2: Linfield vs Wesley Live Twitter Feed

Your Live Linfield game day Twitter Feed is back.  You can now follow live updates of the 'Cats at Wesley via folks that will be tweeting the action. Join twitter (it's easy) and be a part of the action. Just make sure you hash-tag "Catdome" in your updates. i.e. #catdome

Also, there is a live video feed of today's action via the folks at D3football.com

WATCH LINFIELD VS WESLEY


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.

Overall

'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 believe.....do you?

Monday, November 21, 2011

‘Cats Win!!! Linfield blocks CLU’s bid to advance in the NCAA playoffs

Photo Courtsy of Brad Thompson: View and Purchase Brad's Photos here

You smell that? That’s not the smell of fear but it’s actually the smell of the Wildcat’s 30-27 playoff victory over California Lutheran. What a great day in the valley and a great day in the ‘Catdome between two very worthy teams. It would be easy for me to take some light hearted jabs at CLU about the ‘Cats beating them for the 3rd year in a row in the playoffs but I can’t do it. They’re a very good team and as someone who was in St. Thomas last season to see your team put it all on the line and have it end in heartbreak us Linfield fans and our players know the feeling of coming up short. Bottom line, both teams punched and counter-punched. Both teams had flags go against them that put each other in tougher situations. Both teams made big plays to keep the game close, but at the end, the Wildcats ended the game in the area this Linfield team as excelled in all year long: special teams. The ending couldn’t have been more perfect.

Rounding back to the days headed up to the game I was struck by the very confident tone of CLU fan base about this match-up. Hey, our fans are always beyond confident (me included) but this week’s tone was different than the previous two seasons. Some were guaranteeing a CLU victory, comments such as this the “best CLU team” fans have ever seen, and CLU was on such a dominate roll in the SCIAC that they couldn’t be stopped. Etc, etc, etc. Obviously, this was the closest game of the previous 3 years but I felt like some on the CLU bandwagon was discounting what makes Linfield…well…Linfield. The ‘Cats are so solid in all three phases of the game, have outstanding coaching, toughness, fundamentally sound, and we have a lot of darn good players too. As a fan, I was nervous during fall camp headed into the season opener vs. this CLU team. We weren’t very healthy, I wasn’t sure how Inns and our young defensive front were going to perform, and it was hard not to question our chances were versus a hyper-talented and veteran laden team like CLU. As we all know, the ‘Cats put those questions to bed and gave you a look to why this team was going to be exceptional. This is not just a team but this is a brotherhood. It’s a group devoid of ego and focused on being in the moment. I may have had a small doubt in the late days of August but I don’t have any doubt now. Unlike the CLU faithful, I won’t guarantee a trip to the Stagg Bowl  but I will say that I wouldn’t bet against this Linfield team anytime soon.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good

Total Team Effort: All three phases did their part to pitch in to get the job done on Saturday and that's what you want during the playoffs. A great effort by the staff, scout team, all the support people, and the players on the field.  The 'Cats got it done the "Linfield Way".

Special teams/Josh Kay: The 'Cats special teams were once again great. There were only a couple of issues that bubbled up during this phase of the game but the coverage was good, the kickoff team set up the offense with great field position.  Then you have the blocked field goal to win the game and Josh Kay was freaking clutch all game long. Coach Smith was right when he said Kay should have been the NWC special teams player of the year as Kay has proven all year long to be a big time weapon for Linfield.

Offensive Line/Josh Hill: I thought the 'Cats offensive line played brilliantly on Saturday. It was their biggest test of the season and the Linfield offensive line was physical, determined, and provided excellent protection in the pass game. A great effort by them and what can you say about Josh Hill's performance running the ball? It seems the bigger the game the better J-Hill plays.

Wide Receivers: Yeah, I know the offense only threw for 152 yards but I loved the way the Linfield wide receivers played. Totally fearless and battled about as fine of defensive backfield in the nation.

Defense, Defense, Defense: While CLU put up 444 yards of total offense but the bottom line is the Linfield only gave up 20 points on the day vs a team that had averaged almost 60 ppg in their last 6 contests. CLU put pressure on the 'Cats defense but time, after time, after time, the 'Cats defense turned CLU away when it mattered most and that's what made the 'Cats defense so great this year: they find a way to get it done.

Drew Fisher’s TD saving tackle: When Daniel Mosier broke that run early in the 3rd quarter I was 100% sure that he was gone for the touchdown. There was no way the 'Cats were in position to bring him down but the 'Cats All-American Safety might have made his greatest tackle in a long list of great take downs. The remarkable rundown tackle kept the touchdown off the board as Linfield was able to limit CLU to a field goal and changed the complexion of the game. It was an all-american play by one of the divisions very best players.

Linfield Faithful: Easily the smallest crowd of the season with the students starting Thanksgiving break and CLU not bringing up much of a crowd but the hardcore Linfield fans that were at the game rocked the 'Catdome all game long. Don't believe me just listen to the raw audio of the field goal block and it sounded like 20,000 fans instead of just a little under 1,600. Great effort 'Catdome!
Linfield CLU Block FG Raw Audio by Wildcat11

The Bad:

3rd Down Play: It was the 1st time all season long the 'Cats were outdone on 3rd downs (CLU 8 of 16, Linfield 5 of 14) on the season and it showed up in the total yardage as CLU was able to extend multiple drives off the legs and play-making of Laudenslayer. The 'Cats will need to tighten up this down this week out in Dover in order to give Linfield the best possible chance for success.

Giving Up Big Plays: I can't remember the stat but I believe the 'Cats gave up 3 or 4 plays of more than 30 yards and that's just way too many and it almost bit the 'Cats hard on Saturday. Credit CLU for making that happen but again the 'Cats have to get the big plays under wraps this upcoming Saturday.

Not Putting CLU away in the 1st half: Linfield had a prime chance to take a 20-3 lead into the half and possibly send CLU into the locker room with a lot of doubt creeping into their minds.  However, CLU was able to convert a Hail Mary with no time left to make it a 20-10 Linfield lead and give CLU the momentum. It was a big play as the 'Cats were unable to shake CLU for the rest of the game.

The Ugly:

Linfield fans limited access to 2nd round game: I'm not complaining about having to go on the road in the 2nd round but I do think it's too bad that Linfield has to travel such a great distance during a holiday week. This combination just makes the trip such an expensive proposition to overcome. I feel for the fans that want to go but even more so for the player's and staff's family that have sacrificed and supported their 'Cats year after year. Just a shame on announcing the site location so late(as every day counts in terms of costs of airfare) and for sending the 'Cats almost 2,500 miles away. Again, I'm excited to play a team of Wesley's caliber but not thrilled with how the NCAA handled it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Linfield Block For The Win and Cal Lutheran Post Game Interviews.

What a great victory yesterday at the 'Catdome as Linfield held on to send home California Lutheran 30-27 in an instant classic DIII playoff game. For Linfield what a perfect ending to what has been a stand out aspect of this unit: special teams. I'm telling you that the players on the Linfield sideline just felt that block coming on as Defensive End Tyler Steele made first contact and WR Buddy Saxon finished it off. I don't need to say anything more just watch the clip below.



After the game WC11 grabbed Linebacker Dom Forrest, offensive guard Drew Wert, and senior corner Taylor Skore to talk about the 'Cats 3rd consecutive playoff victory over Cal Lutheran.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NCAA Playoffs Round1: Linfield vs Cal Lutheran Live Game Day Twitter Feed

Your Live Linfield game day Twitter Feed is back.  You can now follow live updates of the 'Cats at California Lutheran via folks that will be tweeting the action. Join twitter (it's easy) and be a part of the action. Just make sure you hash-tag "Catdome" in your updates. i.e. #catdome


Friday, November 18, 2011

Around The 'CatdomeO'sphere: Playoff Edition

Send 'Em Up!
Yes, so great to be back with a very special Around The 'CatdomeO'sphere as we trim the fat and focus in on the 'Cats 1st round playoff game vs Cal Lutheran. All the links below are all about Linfield and CLU. Granted, there has been a big run of stories on the feel good Lewis & Clark Pioneers.   I can understand the interested in them starting the season so well, but after reality came crashing down in the form of the right hand of Linfield, all of those interviews and special stories dried up faster than Puget Sound's run game. No need to say it but tomorrow is a big day at the 'Catdome and I'm excited to see how the 'Cats battle. Bundle up and get yourself to the game. We're lucky enough in DIII to be able to settle it on the field so make sure you don't miss the chance to be a part of it. 'Catdome!

News-Register: Ben Schorzman's live blog of Linfield's 47-14 mauling of Lewis & Clark

The Linfield Review: 'Cats wrap up another undefeated season, NWC title, and playoff birth in 47-14 beating of L&C.

The Linfield Review: Study room in Nicholson Library dedicated to former 'Cats football player and fallen solider of Vietnam war, Mike Barrow (class of '68)

The Pioneer Log:  "Solid" Lewis and Clark defense holds 'Cats down to only 34 1st half points.

wildcatspread40.blogspot.com: Wildcats Crush Pios 47-14...

Linfield Sports:  The 'Cats Shimabukuro and Gonzalez have been teammates for life.

wildcatspread40.blogspot.com: What WCS40 learned about the 'Cats during the regular season

Statesman Journal: 'Cats take Lewis & Clark out with the trash.

Oregonlive.com: Inns has Linfield singing a playoff tune.

Oregonlive.com: Linfield puts the Pios away in the 1st half.

The Linfield Review: The Review tries to make sense of wild playoff bracket.

Oregonlive.com: 'Cats host a familiar face in the opening round of the playoffs.

The CLU Echo (page 10 of .pdf):  Kingsmen looking to avenge only loss of their season as they head back to the 'Catdome

D3football.com's Around The Nation: D3fb takes a shot a their playoff picks, surprises, and disappointments

D3blogs.com's Triple Take: D3football.com crew picks 1st round games.

D3football.com Road To Salem Feature: CLU and Redlands go their separate ways in the 1st round of the playoffs.

VCstar.com: Cal Lutheran halftime adjustments lead to big 3rd quarter results.

VCstar.com: CLU's Ben McEnroe "We can beat anyone in the country, anywhere in any conditions right now."

VCstar.com: Cal Lutheran fishing regular season in style in 70-20 torching of Occidental.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2011 NCAA Playoff Round 1 Preview: Linfield (9-0) vs California Lutheran (8-1)

Once again we meet with our good friends from California Lutheran. For the 3rd year in a row the ‘Cats will line up against the Kingsmen for the right to advance in the NCAA Division III playoffs. For those that follow both programs know this is actually the ‘Cats 5th meeting with CLU in Linfield’s past 22 games (past 21 for CLU) and at this point I think each teams' players and staff know each other so well they could recite the others playbook by heart.

Even though the frequency of this game is almost at a nauseating level, it’s still intriguing to me on a number of levels. I think there’s zero doubt that both of these teams are in an elite class of Division III football teams this season and while it’s too bad we have to face off in the 1st round, it’s just our reality in DIII out in the far west. It would be easy for me to go on a tirade about the brackets being unbalanced and how the seeding is ridiculous but it’s pointless. Both of these teams say they’ll play anybody, anytime, anywhere, so we might as well buckle it up and get down to business against a top flight team now instead of getting a sacrificial lamb from the weak auto qualifiers from the Midwest. Hell, why not? Send ‘Em Up!

For California Lutheran, the season opening 24-14 loss to Linfield can to a surprise to the CLU fan base and even to their Head Coach Ben McEnore who told the Ventura County Star “…in all honesty, I am surprised we lost this football game. Give Linfield credit, they took advantage when they had chances. But for the most part, this was a winnable football game for us.” The loss at the ‘Catdome wasn’t in the plans for the Kingsmen and they looked a little uneven the next week in defeating PLU 28 – 17 at Moorepark College but then came a pivotal moment in CLU’s season. On the opening night of play at CLU’s brand new stadium, the SCIAC title was eventually on the line as Redlands came to town. It looked like the wheels were falling off as Redlands raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead but CLU turned the tables on Redlands and stormed back by putting up 28 consecutive 2nd half points to take the big 28-24 win. Since that half of football CLU has been on a major roll in defeating Whittier, La Verne, Pomona-Pitzer, CMS, Chapman, and Oxy by an average score of 59 to 13. Supporters and fans around the CLU program are saying this is the best CLU team ever and they have been playing up to their potential over the last 2/3rds of the season. Needless to say, the CLU confidence is at an all-time high as they head into this weekend.

Get To Know A Wildcat
#65 Hayden Mace, Senior, Center


Favorite Place in Mac to Eat: I don’t have a favorite, but I get into a pretty good weekend routine, so I’ll share it with everyone: Friday O-line meeting: Bento from 76. Post-game dinner: GVB. Saturday night: Muchas. Sunday afternoon: Carl’s Jr.

Favorite Movie: I go back and forth on this a lot, but the movie that’s always in the running is The Dark Knight.

Favorite Music: Alternative rock (Panic! At The Disco, Fall Out Boy) and the blues, acoustic and jazz genre (The Jack Johnson, John Mayer and Colbie Caillats of the world).

Favorite TV Show: I have a plethora, but The Office is hands down my #1.

Favorite Pro Football team: GO HAWKS!

Class I Most Look Forward to: The best class on campus is Economics of College Sports by Randy Grant.

Mac or PC: PC

Cpu Homepage: ESPN

Twitter or Facebook: Can I say both? No? Well then, Twitter.

Car or Truck: I drive a 1992 Ford Taurus. If anyone is looking for a classy car, let me know.

Xbox, PS3, or WII: Xbox

Favorite Coach Hire Saying: Oh, wow! There are so many to choose from. His two favorites this year have been, “Just take him on the angle” and “We wear our swag on our helmets and facemasks.”

Favorite Movie Director: You’re killing me with all of these favorite questions, you know? Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight & Inception) has two of my top-five favorites, so he has to be the guy.

All you can eat buffet at Izzy's. Which O-lineman could do the most damage in one evening: Barnes can put the food away, it’ll just take him all day to do it.

Your Favorite Part About Playing at Linfield is: The coaches and the players make the difference. The guys that choose to play here at Linfield are great guys, both on and off the field. The combination of the brotherhood that this team has along with the best coaching staff in the nation makes for a winning culture.

Post Linfield aspirations: Hopefully get a job with Nike or a finance company in the Portland area and become an offensive coordinator or head coach for a high school team.

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Nothing else but a full 4 quarters of Linfield Football: In order to win this game the ‘Cats need to take the approach that has worked for this group all season long. Be 100% focused on being in the moment and doing your job to the very best of your ability. There are going to be high’s and low’s on Saturday and if the ‘Cats are able to handle both adversity and success for the duration of the contest then I like our chances to slug out a win.

Have to limit the CLU run game: This is no disrespect to the Kingsmen ability to strike in the air (because they’re dangerous throwing the ball) but if you let Daniel Mosier loose on the ground you’re going to make it awfully hard to slow down the CLU offense. Linfield’s defense has to limit the CLU run game in order to take away their balance and give the ‘Cats defense a shot to make plays when CLU is put in positions to throw the ball. That’s easy for WC11 to type because the Kingsmen line is pretty darn big but the ‘Cats have to find a way to beat blocks and put on a tackling clinic on Saturday.

Keep bodies off of Mickey Inns: During the 1st game of the season against CLU, Mickey Inns took way too many hits on the day. Inns and the ‘Cats passing game has grown tremendously over the course of the season and it will be a major key this Saturday to keep Inns on his feet and Kingsmen out of his face.

Have to win field position game: The Kingsmen offense is too explosive to give them opportunities to work with short fields. Good field position isn’t just about special teams but it’s about all three phases of the ‘Cats game keeping the action on CLU’s side of the field. If the ‘Cats can make CLU work long fields and get the offense chances to work with short porches the ‘Cats will be in a great position to win the game.

Keep CLU’s big play strikes down: The CLU passing game features a fine group of receivers led by their All-American candidate Eric Rodgers. While Rodgers has hurt Linfield in the past, the ‘Cats still need to be mindful of the other big play threats on the field and not allow CLU to get behind the ‘Cats defense. I know I’m asking a lot to both stop their run game and also don’t allow big plays downfield but I have faith the defense will give it their best effort to do both.

Run the darn football: Linfield’s saving offensive grace in the season opener was rushing for 256 yards against CLU. I’m sure that isn’t a fact that’s loss on CLU’s coaching staff as they put together their defensive game plan. Regardless, of the extra attention CLU will probably put on the ‘Cats run game, Linfield has to be a balanced offense on Saturday and that starts by running the ball.

Special Teams having a day: CLU has explosive returners and play solid special teams so this will be a good challenge for what has been a stand-out year for Linfield’s special teams unit. Linfield needs to have a great day in covering returns to help win that field position battle.

Overall

‘Cats by 7. This has the potential to be a whale of a game. I respect the heck out of CLU’s ability and talent but I love what this Wildcat team brings to the table. There many CLU supporters that think the Kingsmen will break through against Linfield on Saturday. That just plays into the overall feeling I get that CLU believes they shouldn’t have lost that season opener and that’s fine. However, there is a reason Linfield has and will continue to be an elite team in Division III and I’m looking forward to those reasons being on display this Saturday. Go ‘Cats!

Monday, November 14, 2011

‘Cats Win!!! Linfield fixes Lewis & Clark's wagon in 47-14 mauling at the ‘Catdome.

Photo Courtsy of Brad Thompson: View and Purchase Brad's Photos here

Lewis & Clark brought a knife to a gun fight as the ‘Cats put the game away before the horn went off to signal the end of the 1st half. Honestly, it could have been a much worse score than 34-0 but regardless it was total and complete domination of a team that was a nice little story headed into their last games of the season. Linfield was sharp, focused, and once again proved they are the cream of the Northwest Conference crop. In victory, the ‘Cats sealed the NCAA playoff automatic birth, the program’s 3rd consecutive NWC title, and the Linfield’s 35th overall conference championship. Since the Northwest Conference was reinstated in 1996 the ‘Cats have now captured the NWC title 9 times over the past 16 years. Since the 2000 season, the ‘Cats have run their NWC record to an astonishing 60 wins against 5 losses. Just flat out dominate.

This 2011 Wildcat team has been on the same level of those conference champions of year's past in winning their NWC games with a margin of victory of 32 points per game (avg score of 46-14). The ‘Cats have done it in all phases this season in mauling teams with a suffocating defense, stand out special teams play, and a more balanced offensive attack that has shown tremendous growth during the season. I’ve heard some coaches around the NWC state that while Linfield is a great team they don’t have the 2 or 3 stars to carry them. I’d argue with them on that point but where this team stands out to me compared to the rosters of previous years is the depth. To me, this is one of the deepest Linfield rosters I’ve seen in terms of speed and talent. This Linfield team comes at you with wave after wave of fast and tough minded football players. They’ve been an honor to cover and watch.

But let’s round back to Saturday. The big question people had was if the ‘Cats would be able to limit mistakes and hold down the Pioneer offense. The ‘Cats answered with an emphatic “yes” to both of those questions and it was apparent early on the 'Cats were ready to roll. Both the ‘Cats offense and defense dominated Lewis and Clark in out gaining the Pios 381 yards to 90 yards in the 1st half of play. It was so one-sided that the student section bailed at halftime and one Wildcat fan in the North End Zone said to me “I’m kind of disappointed. I was hoping to see a game today.” Myself….I was fine with how the game turned out.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good

The ‘Cats played Linfield Football: After a rocky performance at Whitworth the week before I was curious to see how the ‘Cats would respond. I’ve stated before that when this team is on their game they’re going to be hard to beat and the ‘Cats were hitting on all cylinders this past weekend. That just doesn’t happen on Saturday but that comes from a great week of preparation, the Scout Team busting backside, and the whole team zeroing in on playing Linfield football. The ‘Cats were not afraid of the moment and came out and rolled physically and emotionally.

Defensive Domination: The Wildcat’s once again faced a highly touted NWC offensive player and did what the ‘Cats seem to do with regularity in this situation: suffocate and dominate. The Pioneers had 90 total yards of 1st half offense but if you take out their single drive of 65 yards, the ‘Cats defense only allowed 14 yards on L&C’s other 7 first half possessions. The ‘Cats shark tank was in a feeding frenzy.

Offensive Explosion: At times it looked like the ‘Cats were play a summer pick up 7-on-7 skelly session as Linfield raced up and down the ‘Catdome surface in posting up 34 1st half points. Linfield knew coming into the game they would be able to score points but it was almost surgical in how Linfield took apart Lewis and Clark’s defense.

Tackling: Against a team that spreads you out sideline to sideline you have to be able to tackle well and that’s just what the ‘Cats did. Fantastic job in wrapping ball carries and being smart along the sideline in getting carries out of play but without a chance of getting any late hit flags tossed. Very solid fundamental contest by Linfield.

Josh Kay going 4 for 4 in Field Goal attempts: Josh Kay and the Field Goal/PAT team has been locked in all season long and yesterday was another great example. Great protection, great snaps, great holds, and Josh was automatic on all 4 attempts. Outstanding.

‘Cats rushing game: The passing game was there all day long but so was the rushing attack. The ‘Cats out rushed Lewis & Clark on the day 181 to 128 as the ‘Cats Josh Hill led all rushers with 111 yards on 18 carries (6.2 ypc). The whole offensive unit was busting tail blocking and J-Hill was electric. It was also great to see Aaron Williams back and regaining that All-Conference form with 32 rushing yards in only 5 attempts. Josh Hill, Stephen Nasca, and Aaron Williams are a darn good trio of backs headed into the playoffs.

3rd down defense: L&C came into Saturday with almost a 50% conversion rate on 3rd down but Linfield’s defense was up for the task in only allowing the Pios to convert on 25% of 3rd down chances (3 of 12).

‘Cats passing attack: Mickey Inns and the offense competed 67% of Inns passes on 20 of 30 attempts for 286 yards, 4 touchdowns, and zero picks. 8 different ‘Cats caught passes and the receivers were impressive in accumulating the yards after catch. The Linfield passing game was very sharp.

The Bad

Giving up 5 sacks: Honestly, I was pretty surprised at this number as Inns hardly seemed under duress through the game but in looking back L&C had a sack to close out the half and got to Inns on back-to-back plays early in the 3rd. Yoder took two more sacks late in the game but this offensive line knows keeping Inns upright is a major priority headed into next weekend. I think the 5 sacks is a little deceptive but the ‘Cats still need to button this up.

The Ugly

Lewis and Clark player mean-mugging Linfield before the game: As the ‘Cats headed into the locker room after warm-ups, L&C was still on the field going through their routine. One L&C player that wasn’t participating in the Pios O vs D walk through was standing at midfield near the Linfield sideline and was in full out mean-mugging mode. If you don’t know what “mean-mugging” is here is a definition “To glare at another person with a scowl, or other antagonistic facial expression, with malicious intent, hoping to provoke a response from the intended recipient. I.E. glare, smirk, leer, or stare.”

Yes, this L&C player was about ten feet away was trying his best to intimidate the ‘Cats as they entered the locker room. It was rather comical and the ‘Cats thought so to as I heard some chuckling and head shaking. Listen, this team and program has seen the Whitewaters, Hardin-Simmons, Mary Hardin-Baylors, USTs, and the Cal Lutheran’s of Division III. Those teams actually don’t do any of that nonsense because they already know they’re good. The point is that display was like a little leaguer trying to brush back Albert Pujols. Save that for Pomona-Pitzer and just worry about playing football when you finally get to see an elite team.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thank You Senior Class of 2011!


What a great day at the 'Catdome yesterday as the 'Cats secured their 3rd consecutive Northwest Conference title after a 47-14 pasting of Lewis & Clark at Linfield's Senior/Hall of Fame Day at the 'Catdome. This is a great group of seniors that have accumulated a 36-6 record over the past 4 seasons, 23-1 record in Northwest Conference play, 3 conference championships, and 3 straight playoff appearances. However, the final script has yet to be finished for this group as the 'Cats will once again host Cal Lutheran in the 1st round of the NCAA playoffs. Check back often as we'll have a wrap up of the L&C game and take a good look at round 5 of Linfield vs CLU. Send 'Em Up!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Linfield vs Lewis & Clark Live Twitter Feed

Your Live Linfield gameday Twitter Feed is back.  You can now follow live updates of the 'Cats at Whitworth via folks that will be tweeting the action. Join twitter (it's easy) and be a part of the action. Just make sure you hash-tag "Catdome" in your updates. i.e. #catdome


Friday, November 11, 2011

Around The 'CatdomeO'sphere

'Catdome

Welcome back to our last regular season installation of our link around up of various news and media on your Linfield Wildcats and the rest of the NWC. Lots of coverage in Spokane of the 'Cats win over Whitworth. Be sure to check out Taylor Skore's rim rocker of a hit in KREM story. It was textbook decleater. Some Linfield vs Lewis & Clark coverage to get you primed for the deciding NWC game this weekend at the 'Catdome. But the worst and I mean worst story of the week is our Bonus clip. The Pacific University student paper put out a "be on the lookout" article on some local pervert that has been using the Boxer athletic facilities and sneaking in the showers as the same time as their football and wrestling teams. I would insert some smarmy joke here but I can't. That's just gross.

The Linfield Review: 'Cats escape the Rats plague 42-38.

The Spokesman Review: Linfield gets out of Spokane with 42-38 win over the Rats.

The Whitworthian: Rats almost able to bite the 'Cats (page 21 of .pdf)

ESPNnorthwest.com (w/video): Rats upset bid comes up short...of course it did.

KREM.com: Linfield storms back at half in tight win at the Pine Bowl. Nice shot of Taylor Skore's KO hit at the :43 mark

Oregonlive.com: Willamette bursts L&C's balloon in 57-28 victory.

The Pioneer Log: Players say they played at a "C-" level vs Willamette and look to have huge week of practice before taking on Linfield.

AM860 NW Sports Tonight: Ron Callen talks with L&C's Chris Sulages (13:34 mark of podcast)

D3blogs Triple Take: Lewis and Clark listed as one team that can alter its fortunes the most this weekend.

D3football.com Around The West Region: The West Region previews Linfield vs Lewis & Clark.

Full Access Sports Podcast: Willamette announcers talk about "what if's"

D3football.com Around The Nation: Keith talks various Playoff scenarios and Ithaca consecutive winning season streak stops at 41.

The News Tribune: Lutes take commanding lead and then hand on tight as Pacific makes last quarter gasp.

The News Tribune: Both PLU and UPS struggle to score points. Just blame it on the team's youth...that's what everyone else does.

The Pacific Index: Boxers see improvement in year 2.

The Pacific Index: Boxer football has brought along new founded school spirit.

BONUS:

The Pacific Index: Creeper Alert as random perv is reported taking showers with football and wrestling team.

NWC Pick 'Em Contest: Week 11

Send 'Em Up!
Thankfully my pick 'em year is coming to a close.  I went from defending 2010 champ to pick 'em chump in the matter of 365 days.  A real flash in the pan. I guess this is what Willamette felt like in 2009. (*rimshot*).  Wildcat11 went 4 out of 6 last week as my two blemishes came with Willamette keeping the Wagon Wheel vs the Pios and McMurry ended Louisiana College's season out in the ASC.  That brings my yearly total to 50 correct picks out of 66 games (75.8%) which puts me in the middle of the pack.  So here is one last week to go out on a respectable note and finish strong.

Northwest Conference

Whitworth (3-6) over Puget Sound (0-8) (at Puget Sound): If the Rats offense plays as well as they did in last weekend's game vs Linfield then Whitworth should score a solid win.  Whitworth should be feeling pretty good as over the past three weeks they've smashed Pacific, beat Willamette on the road, and give Linfield all they could handled.  UPS has been a turnover over machine with zero run game and that will spell doom for the Loggers.

Willamette (4-5) over Pacific Lutheran (5-3) (at Willamette): Well, I talked a gang of smack about Willamette last week.  The Bearcats responded with a double tall man pointed in my direction as their offense clicked in putting up a huge number on the Pios.  But this game isn't about the up and down Willamette offense but more about PLU's lack of offensive production.  Unless the Bearcats shoot themselves in the foot, I like the Bearcats to win.

West Region Games Of The Week

St. Olaf (7-2) over Concordia-Moorehead (6-3) (at St. Olaf):  St. Olaf's pool C playoff bid took a major hit last week as the corpse known as St. John's football tripped up Oles 27-24 in Collegeville.  I almost took Moorehead because of the playoff hopes of St. Olaf getting dashed but see the Oles getting it done in their season finale.

Louisiana College (7-2) over Hardin-Simmons (5-4) (at HSU):  Two good teams that are playing for a matter of pride at this point.  LC's playoff hopes came to an end last week at the hand's of McMurry and HSU has been playing out the string for a good chunk of the season.  I'm going to take LC to get the win over HSU because I need to start getting used to picking against the Cowboys since Linfield and HSU are picked up their series again as HSU will visit the 'Catdome in 2012 and Linfield will return the favor in 2013.

National Game Of The Week

#14 Kean (8-1) over #15 Montclaire State (8-1) (@ Montclaire): The NJAC championship is on the line in this clash of these East Region top teams.  Kean has come up a few times this year in the NGOTW and have came through each time.  That's good enough for me even if they have dudes that mug for the camera like this.  COme on bro...brutal.

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.

Overall

‘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!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Game 9: Linfield vs Lewis & Clark Game Day Guide


View 2011 Linfield Wildcats Football Guide in a larger map

Last regular season game of the year and it could be bigger.  The 7-1 (4-1 NWC) Lewis & Clark Pioneers will be headed to the 'Catdome to take on our 8-0 (5-0 NWC) Linfield Wildcats.  On the line is the coveted NCAA Division III automatic bid to the playoffs.  It's simple...whoever wins this games goes to the playoffs.  If you're a Wildcat fan and have the means and ability to get to the game you've gotta get down to the 'Catdome to back the 'Cats.  However, if you're new to the 'Catdome and McMinnville and not sure where to grab the best cup of coffee in town or where to get some food after the game?  That's where we come in to lend you a hand on some recommendations around town.

Just click on the Wildcat Head with the number 9 and a bubble will pop up with a gaggle of information on the game (start time, links to game video, audio, previews, tailgate location) and also some recommendations on what to do in Mac and where there are some solid places to eat.  Now, the Wildcat11's are not wine drinkers and McMinnville has a booming wine industry.  So if you are looking for wine makers in the area then here is the link to the Yamhill Valley winemakers association.

Also, there is a link to the 'Cats primo tailgate area located a few short blocks south from the stadium.  Here is the link if you don't want to click on the map info bubble.  A lot of great Linfield fans down in that area that are always welcoming to anybody headed to the 'Catdome that day.  So if you're a new Wildcat family or visiting Pioneer backer looking to tailgate, then that's the best place to set up. 

If you want a bigger look at the map then either click on the link on the info bar on the right or just click here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

'Cats Win! Linfield escapes rat trap in a 42-38 victory over Whitworth.



A win is a win. At the end of the day what mattered most is the ‘Cats dug deep after a most lackluster 1st half and pulled out a 42-38 victory at Whitworth’s Pine Bowl. The game on Saturday took place in three acts. Act one was without a doubt the worst 1st half of football the ‘Cats have played all season long. Silly penalties, turning the ball over, and mental lapses paired with some great play from Whitworth put the ‘Cats in their 1st deficit at halftime all year long. Act two, was the ‘Cats getting back to playing Linfield Football and raking Whitworth for 28 consecutive points and suffocating the Pirate offense while taking a commanding 17 point lead. Then the third and final act was the last 7 minutes of the game where I felt the ‘Cats took their foot off the gas in coughing up the ball at the Rat 33 yard line, missing a wide open TD pass that would have ended it, and Linfield giving up the longest play from scrimmage of the year that gave Whitworth life and a chance to pull off a huge upset. Thankfully, the ‘Cats responded and put the game on ice with a big 3rd and 10 Mickey Inns to Buddy Saxon conversion. It was a roller coaster of a game but going back to my first thought: Linfield won.

So what did Saturday mean for the ‘Cats? I think Coach Smith nailed it perfectly in the post-game huddle when he said that when this team is not hampering themselves and focusing on playing Linfield Football, the ‘Cats are a force with be reckoned with. On the other side of the coin, when Linfield is making mistakes, turning the ball over, and not sharp the ‘Cats can be average. I think Saturday was an opportunity for this team to learn a great lesson about who they are. When this team is on their game and zeroed in on the task at hand, they’re going to be pretty hard to beat. When they’re not doing those things…. Whitworth can happen. So that’s what we’re going to find out next week from OUR Wildcats in a high stakes regular season finale. Are the ‘Cats going to be on their game or are they going to give an improved Lewis & Clark a chance to beat them at the ‘Catdome?  Thankfully, we'll find out soon.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good

Wildcat resolve: I’ll write more about this in “The Ugly” but there wasn’t panic during halftime. Instead the ‘Cats came together and decided they were not going to lose that game. Some teams might have folded up the tents but Linfield knew that 1st half wasn’t who they are. It was an unfamiliar position for this year’s team and they handled it beautifully.

Special Teams balled out: 4 blocked PAT’s? Are you kidding me? What a tremendous effort by the defense/Field Goal block team. Those 4 points wound up being the margin of victory for Linfield and just is another example of the ‘Cats special teams have so many ways to hurt you. Besides the PAT’s being blocked, the coverage’s were excellent and we’ll talk about Drew Fisher and the Punt Return team a little bit later. Another great effort.

Offensive Line Play: The O-line brought it on Saturday. They did a tremendous job in pass protection.  So well, that at times, Mickey could have busted out a guitar and played Freebird before getting off a pass. Along with pass protection, I though the run game blocking was solid and allowed the ‘Cats offense to pile up 455 yards of total offense and 42 points. It was a good day’s work for the guys up front.

Punt Return Team: Huge. Over the past few weeks the ‘Cats have blocked multiple punts for touchdown but Linfield knew Whitworth does a very good job in protection. Linfield turned their attention to the return game and the result was a near Linfield single game record for punt return yardage. Drew Fisher finished with 124 punt return yards which is 5 yards short of the single game record set by Tony Agcaoili vs Southern Oregon in 1995 (129 yards). The returns set the ‘Cats up with great field position and got the ‘Cats rolling. On top of that, Fisher's running style is about as entertaining as it gets. 

‘Cats passing game: Linfield QB Mickey Inns was a wrecking machine in tossing for a career high 344 and 5 touchdowns against only one pick. Actually, I thought Inns could have gone over 400 yards on the day as they just missed on one or two potential deep balls. Mickey completed passes to 9 different Wildcats on the day and looked in total command of the Linfield offense.

2nd half pressure: A big reason why I thought Whitworth’s passing game was able to get off so well that 1st half was the lack of QB pressure. The ‘Cats have been able to make quarterbacks feel very uncomfortable throughout the entire season but didn’t get any heat that 1st half. The 2nd half was a different story as the ‘Cats defensive front was getting multiple hits and sacks on Whitworth and that pressure was a key cog in getting the game back in control.

The Bad

11 penalties: I’ve been complaining about this for weeks and it finally bit the ‘Cats hard this past weekend. If the ‘Cats would have been able to keep the laundry on the field limited it would have solved some the ills of Saturday. They were killers: extended Whitworth’s 1st scoring drive, put Linfield in bad field position multiple times; took away 1st downs, aided Whitworth’s last scoring drive of the 1st half, and stalled potential drives. I think you get the message. The ‘Cats have to clean this up now.

Giving up 38 points: Linfield’s defense has been 100% dominate all season long but had a dreadful performance during the 1st half and at the end of the game vs Whitworth. I don’t believe for a second that Linfield’s defense was exposed because the body of work is too extensive to think otherwise. This game reminded me in so many ways of that 2009 UPS game where a stout Linfield defense laid a big ‘ole egg versus UPS that caused a lot of fans to hit the panic button. It was an anomaly in 2009 as that defense played incredibly well for the reminder of the season and I feel Saturday was the same thing…an anomaly. It was bad but this Linfield defense will bounce back.

4 turnovers: 2 of those turnovers created short fields for Whitworth and led directly to two touchdowns, the ‘Cats fumbled on the Rats 5 yard line that took away a Linfield scoring chance, and the other turnover the Rats picked off a pass at the deep in their own territory. Factor in the 11 penalties along with the 4 turnovers and it’s remarkable the ‘Cats dug deep and found a way to win.

The Ugly

1st half effort: This was a rather easy call. The ‘Cats did so much self-inflicted damage during that first half in making the long walk up to the locker room I was curious in how Coach Smith, the staff, and the players would respond. When I walked into the field house (visitor’s locker room) there were no chairs being thrown, players freaking out, and not even a raised voice in anger by Coach Smith. It was just the opposite. That makeshift locker room was all about working it out and coming together. There was no panic but just the believe that if the ‘Cats could correct some of their issues they could storm right back and that’s just what happened. It was comforting to witness the process. Bullets were flying, things were breaking down all around the ‘Cats, and Whitworth was playing at their top gear. In all of that chaos and adversity our ‘Cats were able to take a step back and work it out. That’s a true mark of a great program and of a great team. There’s nothing ugly about that.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Linfield at Whitworth Live Twitter Feed

Your Live Linfield gameday Twitter Feed is back.  You can now follow live updates of the 'Cats at Whitworth via folks that will be tweeting the action. Join twitter (it's easy) and be a part of the action. Just make sure you hash-tag "Catdome" in your updates. i.e. #catdome

Also, Whitworth live streams their games so you can watch the action as well. Here is that link


Friday, November 4, 2011

Around The 'CatdomeO'sphere

Catdome!
Welcome back to your weekly news/media round-up.  Not a ton on the 'Cats this past week since Linfield was in Northern California and the Oaks are not exactly a hot press item in the Bay Area.    Have some interviews with Coach Tully and a few of his players about the Willamette game and hosting Linfield.  The Pioneers continue to milk their run for all it's worth in getting coverage by various Portland media outlets.  Make sure you check out the Bonus YouTube video on a Linfield great, Luke Buchheit, who was about as dominate of a true Tight End the NWC has seen in a long time.

The Linfield Review: ’Cats shake the Oaks 23-6

Wildcatspread40.blogspot.com: 'Cats chop down the Oaks 23-6

Linfield Sports: The 'Cats Bill Johnson talks to Coach Smith about Menlo and big game at Whitworth.

Newsregister.com: 'Cats move past scrappy Menlo

D3football.com: Keith McMillan's Around The Nation gives advice to Seniors, breaks down his top 50, and the 1st regional rankings.

SWXrightnow.com (video): Whitworth players talk about OT win over Willamette and looking towards Linfield

SWXrightnow.com (video): Rats all smiles.

SWXrightnow.com (video): Tully talks going for 2 and says a lot but nothing at all about playing Linfield.

Willamettecollegian: Whitworth upsets Willamette and the only quote is from the Field Goal kicker...really?

The News Tribune: Pioneers stun the Lutes with a big 2nd half comeback.

Portland Tribune: "Amazing" Lewis and Clark goes to 7-0 with win over PLU

Oregonlive.com: Lewis and Clark looks to keep the magic going.

AM750 The Game: L&C's Chris Sulages sits in studio with the Morning Sports Page Chad Doing and talks his Pioneers, the season, and what he thinks there's an East Coast Bias in D3.

AM860 NW Sports Tonight: Ron Callen talks to Keith Buckley about Pacific's 1st win and with L&C's Chris Sulages about beating PLU (12:40) Clip is from "10/31/2011 Hour 3"

Oregonlive.com: Boxers win a game and cornerback Craig Bailey says the Boxers are now on the uprise.

Oregonlive.com/Hillsboro Argus: Boxers break through

Portland Tribune: Boxers pass by Puget Sound 44-25

Pacific Boxer YouTube Page: Boxer highlights of win over Puget Sound

Bonus

Major shutout to a WC11 favorite and former Linfield great Luke Buchheit who was inducted into the McMinnville High School Athletic Hall of Fame. This documentary runs down Luke growing up, his time at Mac High, and as a Linfield Wildcat. Congrats Buch!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NWC Pick 'Em Contest: Week 10

Send 'Em Up!
Last week was interesting to say the least. Wildcat11 went 5 out of 8 in last week's Pick 'Em contest but the three misses were all Northwest Conference games. Obviously, I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I can't recall ever missing 3 games in the NWC in a single week. Once again, Whitworth didn't jive with a WC11 pick, Pacific rolled UPS (not upset on that miss), and L&C continues their magic carpet ride in coming back on the 'Lutes. Wild. That puts me at 46 our of 60 and drops me to 76.7% on the season. I'm still right in the middle of the pack but still have a chance in the next two weeks to possibly climb up to 3rd place.  BTW, can you remember the last time Linfield finished 3rd in the conference standings?  Yeah, neither can I.  Good slate of games this week so let's get to it.

Northwest Conference

Lewis & Clark (7-0) over Willamette (3-5) (at L&C): A few weeks ago this was one of the games most people were saying would put an end to L&C's solid start in 2011. How things change in a few weeks. Willamette has gone through a very challenging schedule and they seemed to be a mortal lock to finish up the year as the NWC's number 2 team. That feeling was validated after the Bearcats hung in there and battled I-AA Portland State to a moral victory. Then came last weekend. I caught most of the second half of the Willamette/Whitworth game and what I saw out of the Bearcats was a team that was emotionally checked out, disinterested, heartless, flaccid. Willamette looks sub-par at best. On the other side of the coin you have a team that has a large group of Seniors that are believing in themselves. Lewis and Clark was a pretender but after last week they assured themselves to be an NWC contender after roaring back on the road vs PLU. That wasn't something to roll your eyes at, and after seeing that result coupled with the lack of effort from Willamette, it made this pick actually easy for me. I like the Pios to set up their dream scenario and that's heading to Linfield in the final week of the season at 8-0. Willamette, welcome to a losing season.

Pacific Lutheran (4-3) over Pacific (1-7) (at PLU): Last week about 99% of everyone in the pick 'ems liked UPS to take care of business on the road but Pacific had other plans and unloaded on the Loggers for the Boxers 1st win since bringing back the program last season. It's just another small step for the Boxers to building their program with all of their "Freshmen and Sophomores". PLU had to be stunned after letting last week's game slip away and dropping their 1st game to Lewis and Clark in almost 20 years. I would have hated to be apart of that afterglow session. I like the Lutes to rebound here as Pacific won't be able to run the ball on PLU and the Lutes pressure will bog down the Boxer Passing game. PLU should handle the Boxers this week.

The Bye Week over Puget Sound (0-7) (at UPS): I like the Bye week here to slow down what Pacific's Keith Buckley called "one of the most prolific passing teams in the nation." **WC11 rolls eyes into back of head** The Bye will eventually pour it on the Loggers in the 2nd half and hack and chop their way to victory.

West Region Game of the Week

Wisconsin-Platteville (5-3) @ Wisconsin-Stout (5-3): Man, slim pickings in the west region this week. I cheated a little here and checked out the WIAC pick 'em page to take the temperature of the WIAC fans on who they like here. It's pretty well slip with a slight lean towards Stout. (BTW, Stout is a very cool name for a football school.) I'm going with Plattville because going with the majority of people that live in Wisconsin can't be a bright thing to do. I mean, these people did choose to live in Wisconsin so they have to be somewhat misguided. I'll roll with the minority and take Platteville.

National Games of the Week

#6 North Central (7-1) over #13 Wheaton (7-1) (at NC): Big game in the CCIW and the North region. Since losing to Redlands (ha!) in the 1st week of the season, North Central has been rolling along. Wheaton is a good program that always seems to put a good product on the field but the Thunder have lost 3 in a row to N.C. and I like that streak to move to 4 after Saturday.

#20 Louisiana College (7-1) over McMurry (6-2) (at LC): Linfield fans better be keeping a close eye on this game. The folks at D3football.com have started some early projections on possible playoff pairings and if Linfield wins out there is a chance the winner of this ASC/South Region showdown gets moved to the West and shipped out to McMinnville. This is still two weeks away and we know a lot can change but still take a look at this result.  The winner will keep their Pool C hope alive and the loser is done.