Monday, April 30, 2012

Video of the week: 2011 Linfield at Menlo

'Catdome Cali
Your video of the week is now on-line! Go check out the highlights of the 'Cats 2011 23-6 victory over the NAIA Menlo Oaks

VIDEO: 2011 Linfield at Menlo

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2012 Linfield Football Spring Review: Receivers

Look forward to more big plays from Lucas Jepson in 2012.

Welcome back to the second round of our 2012 Linfield Spring Review. I’m rather fired up to talk about this position group heading into the 2012 season. Before 2011, I was expecting some big moments and production out of the receivers and they didn’t disappoint. We had outstanding leadership and play-making from the vets, new faces making a big impact, and some young talent producing as the season moved along. The receivers finished up 2011 with seven different players catching touchdown passes while three were named to the All-NWC team (Saxon, Jepson, Wiersma).

It was an impressive season on a number of fronts but what I found to be the most pleasing was the passing offense wasn’t just dependent on one guy carrying all the water for the receiving group. Multiple receivers had big games throughout the season and it just made the offense that much harder to cover, and for defenses, it put a strain on where to allocate their resources.

Going into 2012, the receivers did lose four year starter Buddy Saxon. Buddy not only was a big target (6’6”), but the 1st team All-NWC performer was revered by the staff and his teammates for his knowledge and smarts on the field. Along with Saxon, the ‘Cats also lost the services of Erik Koczian who was a steady performer his senior season. With that said, my expectations are high with regards to the potential of the 2012 receivers. Not only does this group has proven talent returning, but is about as deep and potent of a group that I can remember in a number of years at the ‘Catdome. I might be setting the bar high for this group but it should be. Linfield will have guys on the outside and inside that should keep defensive coordinators up at night.

However, along that lofty praise comes the responsibility to live up to it. If you couldn’t tell, I’m looking forward to seeing who steps up to fill the leadership void now that Saxon has graduated, I’m looking forward to seeing the maturation of some of the younger players in the group, and I’m looking forward to seeing how hard this group works for each other once they cross that line on September 1st.

Returning Starter 

Deidre Wiersma, 6-0, 195 lbs, Sr, Grants Pass. Or
Lucas Jepson, 5-9, 180 lbs, Sr, Aloha, Or
Charlie Poppen, 6-1, 175 lbs, Soph, Oregon City, Or

Steady Vets 

Aaron Hire, 6-2, 205lbs, Sr, Salem, Or

Up and Coming 

Evan Peterson, 6-1, 180 lbs, Soph, Issaquah, Wash
Colin Nelson, 6-6, 210 lbs, Soph, Redmond, Wash
Conner Varnell, 6-3, 195 lbs, Jr, Arlington, Wash
Reid Sullivan, 6-0, 180 lbs, Jr, Edmonds, Wash
Michael Carrillo, 6-0, 205 lbs, Jr, McMinnville, Or
Michael Madden, 6-0, 195 lbs, Jr, Buckley, Wash
Derek Priestley, 6-0, 190 lbs, So, Roseburg, Or
David Sigler, 6-0, 175 lbs, So, Cottonwood, Idaho
Jackson Ruckert, 5-10, 170 lbs, So, Albany, Or
Zach Young, 5-9, 180 lbs, Jr, Lake Oswego, Or
Kyle Harris, 5-11, 175 lbs, So, Portland, Or
Taylor Hein, 5-11,, 188 lbs, So, Canby, Or

Talking Ball with Coach Brandon Hazenberg 
Coach Haze is headed into his 7th year on staff and 1st leading the wide receivers.
(Wildcat11) Coach Haze, with the end of 2011, the 'Cats lost a solid group of senior wide receivers including 1st team All-NWC performer Buddy Saxon. Losing a player that was as big (6'6") and as heady of a player of Buddy's caliber seems daunting, however, I find myself being rather optimistic.  You have proven talent coming back as well as what may transpire out of the youth of the wide receivers in the group. What is your 1st impressions of the receivers this spring? 

(Brandon Hazenberg) Well WC11, this group has some very talented players coming back. Not only is there talent within the group, but the talent runs very, very deep. We have a large number of guys competing for playing time right now and that is exciting as a Coach. The kids on the other hand, are learning how to compete against each other while still encouraging one another and being consummate teammates. Last season, two years ago….it’s all out the window. We are focused on what we can achieve right now as a collective group. Time will tell, but this is as deep as a WR core as I have seen in a long time here at Linfield. If these guys buy into running secondaries into the ground as a unit and not as individuals, they could be special.

(WC11) Let's talk about your returning starters. Last season, I felt that Dre Wiersma got off to a bit of a slow start but as the season progressed he elevated his game and became a guy defenses had to find on the field. How has Dre looked so far this spring and what are your expectations of him this season? Two guys that came almost out of the blue where Jepson and Poppen. Poppen opened the season as a Sophomore with 5 consecutive starts before suffering that season ending injury vs. Pacific, and Jepson, transferred in from Cabrillo JC and exploded onto the scene as the 'Cats best play-making threat down the field. 

(BH) Dre has been fantastic this spring. He has been very open to everything the staff has asked of him and I couldn’t be prouder. I expect for him to be the guy young bucks look up to this season for his work ethic, drive to compete, and knowledge of the game.

Mr. Jepson was a big play threat for us last season once he grasped the offensive language and concepts. He'll need to continue to learn and stay motivated for us this season. When he plays hard he is very dangerous, so we'll expect him to do just that.

Poppen is as consistent as they come and I am very excited about him for this upcoming season. Charlie is a quick learner and retains information very well, which is important in our system.  He has grown tremendously over the last 12 months and is beginning to mature as a man and as an athlete.  If he continues to progress, watch out!  Aaron Hire has also been a fantastic surprise. Hire has now fully made the transition to WR from a HS QB.  He understands route running and how to create space.

(WC11) I love the young talent in this group. You have guys in this group that have already made an impact on the field (Peterson, Nelson, Varnell, Priestley) and you have a group of Juniors and Sophomores-to-be that I think are ripe to make a major contribution to the on-field product in 2012. What do you feel are the up and comer’s strengths and are these guys going to be pushing for major playing time in 2012? 

(BH) Evan Peterson has had a fantastic spring camp so far. I really see him pushing to play a big role in the offense this upcoming fall. He doesn’t do any one thing amazing; he is just a complete WR with all the skills to be a stud. Zach Young, who sat out last season with an injury, is also a guy who we feel will make an immediate impact on our team. Zach is a big-time run after the catch guy so we will look to get him the ball is space. Colin Nelson (6’6) is another guy we hope will push to play and give us some much needed height against smaller corners. David Sigler and Derek Priestly have been impressive after a taking the year off because of injuries. Conner Varnell, Michael Carrillo and Taylor Hein provide us with some big bodies for the slot and just need to continue to learn the system and execute. Kyle Harris has had a great spring so far. Jackson Ruckert, Michael Madden, and Reid Sullivan have all yet to take a snap yet this spring, but I expect good things from those guys when they do.

(WC11) One area that I'm a little concerned about is the lack of overall height on in this group. We do have some guys with some height and length but are you concerned about making plays on the ball? Also, what are some other areas that this group needs to improve upon this spring and summer?

(BH) It ain’t the size of the dog in the fight 11, it’s the size of the fight in the dog that matters. Our guys know the importance of aggressive play while the ball is in the air. You have to want that ball more than your opponent every single time it leaves the QB's hand. It’s a mentality that we are trying to establish that does not come easy. It takes time, repetition and a consistent awareness of what is needed to succeed as a WR here.

 The two main areas of improvement for us as a group are knowledge and physicality. We are talented yes, but our knowledge must improve for us to be able to get open versus the elite secondaries in division 3. Talent will only get you so far as we have seen the last 3 seasons. We need to find that little something extra that when push comes to shove will put us over the top.

Lastly….we need to become a WR core that is deemed physical by our opponents. We need to dominate the perimeter through blocking, run after the catch ability and our overall mentality. These guys are still learning what that means, so it needs to continue to be emphasized. You do not choose to become physical overnight….it’s a process of becoming tough over time.

In closing, just wanted to say thank you for all you do for the program WC11. You are a true ambassador of Linfield Football and we couldn’t be more proud of what you do for us. Tell the wifey that all the work and time away from home is much appreciated! Please know you have helped heighten the awareness and prestige of the program over the last 8 years. As much as you would like to negate that fact, it is true. GO CATS!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Willy the Wildcat is cooler than your mascot.

What's your mascot doing right now? Just sitting around your lame athletic complex? You ask what our Willy the Wildcat is doing? He's up in the mountains shredding and waiting for another deep playoff run from his Wildcats this fall.

Monday, April 23, 2012

2012 Linfield Football Spring Review: QB's

Mickey Inns lit up the Northwest Conference in 2011.
One of the big questions headed into the 2011 season was without a doubt just who would be the quarterback for the Linfield College Wildcats and how could they fill the shoes of the departed All-American Aaron Boehme? The answer came in the form of Mickey Inns, as the junior not only took the reins of the Wildcat offense, but captured 1st team All-NWC honors in putting up 2,855 passing yards with 31 TD passes to only 7 interceptions.

It didn’t start out gangbusters for Mickey as he only completed 9 of 24 passes for 122 yards in the season opening win vs CLU but while those from the outside only saw the stat line, those that attended the game saw the intangibles that Inns would build upon as the season progressed. What I’m talking about is poise and remaining steady under the pressure he faced. We talked about it after the game 1 performance but you could see Inns in total control himself and the offense.

While some still questioned if Mickey was “the guy” even after the ‘Cats 2-0 start, all of that was laid to rest after the ‘Cats rain soaked 20-10 win to open up NWC play down at Willamette. Inns was fantastic in going 20-37 for 329 yards in a relentless drenching, and at that point, it was nothing but game after game of racking up multiple TD scores while posting up games of big passing yardage. So with a huge year under his belt, what will the senior QB do as an encore? We’re going to have to wait to see as once again the ‘Cats have murder’s row of non-conference games to jump into but with an explosive running game and a fleet of slick receivers the odds are in Inns’ favor to have another huge year in the ‘Catdome.

Returning Starter

Mickey Inns,  6-2,  205lbs, Sr, Gresham, Ore.

Steady Vet

Josh Yoder, 6-4,  220lbs,  Jr, Hubbard, Ore.

Up and Coming 

Matt Yarbrough, 6-0, 195lbs, So,  Tualatin, Ore.

Levi Altringer, 6-4, 200lbs, So,  Meridian, Idaho

Talking Ball with offensive coach Jim Nagel 
QB coach Jim Nagel will be entering his 9th year on the 'Cats coaching Staff.
(Wildcat11) Coach Nagel you had to be fired up about the performance of the offensive unit last season: 39.9 points per game, close to a 50/50 pass-to-run ratio, 432 yards per game, and a number of new faces at key positions that had a breakout season. With that said,  with experienced players at some key positions does the expectation of this offensive unit rise in the eyes of the coaching staff? 

(Jim Nagel) I thought our offensive unit performed very well last year as evidenced by the stats. However, loosing that last game always puts somewhat of a damper on your season in reflection. That said, with the number of quality returning starters, the outlook for the coming season does have our staff extremely excited.

(WC11) Let’s change gears and talk about your quarterbacks. Headed into 2011 season the program just came off of two dominate All-American caliber seasons from Aaron Boehme. Looking back now was it all a surprise to you that Mickey Inns posted up the stat line of 213 completions out of 352 attempts (60.5 completion percentage), 31 TDs to 7 picks, 2,855 passing yards, an average of 259.5 yards per game? That is a fantastic year for a player that had huge shoes to fill. At what point last season did you say to yourself "OK, Mickey is going to have a great year."

(JN) Having watched Mickey in practice there was little doubt that he would perform well. At the same time, you never know how an untested QB will respond to the pressure of being the guy at such a key position. After the Cal Lutheran game, I think we knew he was going to handle pressure with no problem and we were set for a good season. Our offense puts a tremendous load on the quarterback. He not only has to be physically talented, but mentally bright as well.

(WC11) During this off-season what improvements to Mickey's game have you seen and what areas of improvement have you been stressing to him? 

(JN) Last year Mickey handled the passing game extremely well, and we tried to limit what we asked him to do in the run game. This year we are going to ask him to do more of the same in the passing game, but we are going to put more on him in the run game as well. We have been stressing improvement in his quickness, speed and agility. We want him to be more mobile, and when things break down in the passing game, be able to scramble and make some big plays for us.

(WC11) I've had a number of Linfield fans stop me to talk football and many of them would mention Josh Yoder. The comments were pretty much the same "The 'Cats have to find a way to get that guy on the field." I have to say I agree with them. That's not a slight towards Mickey but a rather a compliment towards Yoder's ability to make plays with his feet. It has to be a delicate balance of not wanting to break up the rhythm of your starter but also not bypassing a player that can produce. With that said, do you see an increased roll in the offense this year for Yoder? 

(JN) Josh Yoder would probably start for most other D-III schools in the country, but because he was behind the talents of Mickey, that didn’t happen last year. He waited in the wings, worked hard and continued to improve. Particularly as the season progressed, we kept thinking we did need to find ways to get him into the game, and we did that. Next season, we have that same thinking, but with added confidence in Josh. His performance this spring has even got us more convinced he needs to play a bigger role for us. Just how we are going to do that, we are not sure, but I am sure we will find a way.

(WC11) I’d like to talk about last year’s freshmen. With Matt Yarbrough, it looks like you have a QB that moves very well, and what time he had last season, he looks like he throws an accurate ball outside the pocket. I didn't get a chance to see Altringer but he has outstanding pedigree coming out of Idaho (as does Yarbrough out of Tualatin) and appears to be more of a traditional pocket passer. What do you see as the future for both of these QBs in the program and could you breakdown what positives they bring to the position? 

(JN) Both Matt and Levi Altringer are talented athletes who continue to improve and learn our offense. This spring will go a long way in determining what kind of a role they will have next fall. We trust they will continue their improvement and be ready to step in as needed.

Video of the week: Linfield vs PLU

The 'Cats were a steamroller

Your video of the week is now on-line! Go check out the highlights of the 'Cats 2011 45-7 thumping over the 'Lutes out of Pacific Lutheran.

VIDEO: 2011 Linfield vs Pacific Lutheran

Friday, April 20, 2012

Linfield at the halfway mark of their spring football season.

Two weeks of Spring Football is complete for YOUR Linfield College Wildcats as once again the week wrapped up with a 5:45 AM start time this Friday morning.  Wildcat11 wanted to give you a small taste of what's going on with spring football so I snapped together the above clip of some of the position work that the 'Cats have been logging in over the past two weeks.

I ran into a former Linfield player this morning who stopped by to take in the action before he had to head into work and I asked him what he thought; "They look pretty polished for a spring practice."  I thought he nailed my thoughts exactly.  The coaches and players will all tell you there is a laundry list of items to improve upon, but this group was hitting the right notes this morning in terms of their tempo and grasp of the schemes.

As you read this, I'm working on those spring position group reviews that I mentioned last week.  We should have our 1st couple of review sometime next week with more to follow during the rest of April and into early May.

If you're haven't "Liked"'s facebook page you've been missing out on some early leaks of incoming Linfield commits.    I'm not getting this information from the coaching staff (understandably they keep things close to the vest) but I've run into these via news articles, twitter, facebook, etc.  From what little I've seen so far the program had done a fantastic job in landing high quality student-athletes and I expect more to come.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Video of the week: 2011 Linfield at Pacific

Send 'Em Up

Your video of the week is now on-line! Go check out the highlights of the 'Cats 2011 49-6 victory over the Pacific University Boxers.

VIDEO: 2011 Linfield vs Pacific

Friday, April 13, 2012

First week of Spring Ball is in the books.

Rise and Shine 'Catdome.
YOUR Linfield Wildcats wrapped up the 1st of 4 weeks of spring football at the 'Catdome this morning.  I was able to get myself out of bed and make it to the 5:45AM start time where after a brisk warm up session the 'Cats were full steam ahead.  The team looked like a small army during warm ups as participation has been excellent and the enthusiasm level was high.  All I could hear from one end of the field to the other, were coaches voices shouting out instructions, players barking out adjustments, plays, encouragement, etc.  For being that early in the morning the energy was like a large cup of coffee hitting your system and a nice reminder that the season isn't that far away. 

What we'll be doing this spring is rounding up the position coaches one at a time and talking about their returners and their expectations for the upcoming year.  We did this last spring and I thought it was a big hit for the Linfield faithful.  The coaches were incredible in taking the time to provide great information and I'm hoping we get to do it again.

As far as my observations....balance.  The team right now is a fine mixture of proven vets at various positions and also wide open positions that have talented players looking to make their mark.  I like it.  It isn't a roster so loaded with seniors that the youth doesn't get served but we're not so young that you get an "oh crap, I hope we can get it together in time" feeling.

There is no doubt that this is another hard working group of Linfield Wildcats.  You can just tell by the eyeball test in how many of the guys have improved in the weight room with their off-season conditioning.  The team looks fit and ready to play what has become the Coach Smith's era of Linfield football "Fast and Physical".   It hasn't happened by accident but by a tremendous amount of work by the staff and class after class of seniors setting the tone.

I'll be looking to make it out a few more times over the next three weeks and like it was mentioned above, we'll start working on reaching out to position group coaches, some video from practice, and at the end we'll punch out a Spring Highlight clip.  Till then...Go 'Cats!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 Linfield College Softball "All-In"

The Division III softball defending national champions reside at Linfield College.  Ever since Linfield Defensive Coordinator Jackson Vaughan took over the softball program in 2002 "Catball" has rocketed from a competitive NWC squad to a national force in winning two NCAA Titles (2007 & 2011), one NCAA runner-up (2010), and 8 consecutive NWC titles.

The connection to football doesn't just start and stop with Coach Vaughan as 1st team All-NWC WR Buddy Saxon is in his 2nd year on the softball staff, 'Cats running back Jordy Romick is a member of the Softball staff, and football team managers Jaydee Baxter and Karleigh Prestianni are also the softball team's starting center fielder (1st team All-NWC) and starter at 3rd base (x2 All-American).

I had the pleasure to put together the above trailer on the 2012 'Catball squad.  The players were great to work with and are first rate young people.  In the short time I was hanging around it was easy to pick up on some of the similar values both the football and softball program share and it's no wonder both have a large amount of success on the gridiron and diamond.  Go 'Cats!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Video of the Week: 2011 Linfield vs Puget Sound

Happy Homecoming!

Your video of the week is now on-line! Go check out the highlights of the 'Cats 2011 73-7 victory over Puget Sound during the 'Cats homecoming game.

VIDEO: 2011 Linfield vs Puget Sound

Friday, April 6, 2012

Cutting Room Floor: 2011 Linfield at Willamette

Not everything makes the Linfileld College Football highlight DVD so each week ADvantage Catdome will bring you what was left on the cutting room floor. Now some of these plays you've seen but what I like about the Cutting Room Floor clips is the extras that happen after these highlights and it's why I've included them in this clip. This week we bring you those moments from the 'Cats 20-10 win vs Willamette from the Oct 1st, 2011 game down in Salem.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Video of the Week: 2011 Linfield at Willamette

Be the hammer.
Your video of the week is now on-line! Go check out the highlights of the 'Cats 2011 big 20-10 victory over Willamette down in the 'Catdome Capitol.

VIDEO: 2011 Linfield at Willamette