|By the time it reached the 4th quarter it was all over.|
Boom! Now that’s what I’m talking about ‘Catdome. We’ve been talking about it for weeks now but we have said that when this 2012 Linfield Wildcat football team limits their mistakes and play to their talent level, you better stand aside because a freight train is coming through. Unfortunately for Whitworth, they were standing on the tracks as Linfield put a certified swamping on the Rats. After the 3rd quarter Linfield had built a 54-0 lead and outgained the Rats in yardage by a 524 to 75 margin. I was expecting Linfield to be crisp on Saturday but I was little shocked in the manner the ‘Cats took a 5-1 team and made them look completely outgunned in all phases of the game. It was a fantastic effort by the ‘Cats and what made it more impressive is this roster continues to show its depth as new pieces are inserted into the lineup (due to injuries) and those ‘Cats are getting it done with their productivity. It’s not only a great sign for the remainder of 2012 but also for the future of this program. The NWC is improving as a conference and has made a big splash in 2012, but the ‘Cats sent a message out that if you’re planning on taking the NWC throne, you better bring it.
What I did hear from a few fans that I wanted to address was playing the score comparison game. Obviously the ‘Cats have to take care of Lewis and Clark this weekend. Once they do that, it’s going to set up a showdown on Oct 27th vs Willamette. A few Wildcat fans mentioned how the Whitworth/Willamette game was tight for most of the contest. I warned them to NOT read too much into that. Playing at Whitworth is tough. Just look at the Linfield game from last year where a 100% superior Linfield team was down at half and had to struggle to put Whitworth away. You have to get out of your mind what Linfield did to Whitworth on Saturday and how the Whitworth/Willamette game played out. I’ve had a chance to see Willamette a little and this is the best Willamette team since their 2008 season. They’re legit and are going to be a HUGE challenge to the ‘Cats in a few weeks down the road. Just wanted to get the whole “if we beat them by “X”, and they only beat them by “Y”, that means we should beat them by “Z”” out of the way because it never works like that.
On another note, I want to congratulate the 2012 team on extending the ‘Cats All-Level of College Football record for securing Linfield’s 57th consecutive winning season. Over the past 57 years Linfield has compiled a record of 427-99-10. That’s a 79.6% winning percentage over the span of 57 years. Remarkable. It’s hard to wrap your head around it but this program’s culture is so well grounded in their belief system. Linfield not only produces great teams but men of character that are well prepared for life after Linfield. This 2012 Linfield team has done it the HARD way. They haven’t played a schedule full of gimmies but have played teams that have a combined record of 20-10 overall. Take out those 5 loses the ‘Cats have put on the opposition and that’s an overall mark of 20-5. It’s impressive and I do feel this team can still get better and continue to grow. It’s up to the players on just how far they want to go on this ride. My gut tells me this team has a chip on their shoulder and feels they have too much to prove to slow down now.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Ready to play Linfield Football: After being away from the ‘Catdome for a month this team was ready to go in front of a packed and rocking ‘Catdome. Love the preparedness of this group before the game. Guys were not freaking out in the locker room but you could see player after player getting themselves locked in and ready.
Wildcat Defense: As a former Wildcat defender I tend to be a little biased to this side of the ball. With that said, this group still deserves a huge chuck of credit for their performance on Saturday. The ‘Cats defense only gave up 29 net yards in the 1st half and 75 net yards after 3 quarters of play. Great pressure up front, making plays on the ball, and great tackling. Early in the season you could see the potential of this defensive group and they’re starting to reach it.
Balanced and attacking offensive attack: 230 yards rushing (5.8) a carry and 355 yards passing (11.5 per completion) for a total of 585 yards of offense and that’s with Linfield taking the foot off the gas in the 4th. The offensive played great on Saturday. The ‘Cats ran so many different playmakers at the Rats and they didn’t have nearly enough to contain it all.
Mickey Inns and the WR’s: Mickey Inns was fantastic on Saturday in going 23 for 32 for 261 efficient yards and tossing 5 TD’s. Mick made great decisions and was in total command of the Wildcat offense. To go along with that, really enjoyed watching the ‘Cats WR’s making plays. 13 different ‘Cats caught passes with 5 of them hauling in TDs. This group put their depth and talent on display on Saturday and will continue to be a big factor in 2012.
‘Cats Defensive Line: The ‘Cats defensive front took Whitworth’s lunch and ate in front of them. It was pure domination by the ‘Cats front and I’m continued to be impressed by our defensive end trio of Hyland, Poomaihealani, and MacClanathan. Special group of guys that continue to alter offenses. I also have to point out the tremendous job by defensive tackles, Marq Randall (led team in tackles), Jermey Girod, and Trey Farber who are showing considerable growth in the absence of All-American and offensive wrecker Tyler Steele.
Wildcat Rushing Attack: You’re down the best back in the NWC and West Region in Josh Hill. Your steady and speedy Senior, Stephen Nasca, is out of action this past Satruday. So the ‘Cats insert freshman Johnathan Shaffer in the starting lineup and freshman Tavon Willis getting the 2nd reps. What do those two young pups do? Just put up 162 yards on only 22 carries (7.3 a pop). Shaffer, who’s playing with one hand casted, popped for 90 of his yards in the 1st quarter alone and showed off his great vision, pop, and toughness that he's displayed so far in 2012 and Willis showed a gear that I don’t know if anybody else in conference can match. Great work buy these two guys stepping up with a big spotlight on.
Offensive Line: Shaffer and Willis don’t get those yards without this group of guys paving the way. I write this after every game but here it is again: The ‘Cats offensive line played great on Saturday. It’s a young group of guys with 4 sophomores starting and they’ve only continued to get better. Tip of the hat big fellas, you deserve it.
DBs putting in work: Whitworth scorched the Wildcat secondary last season so I know this group was looking forward to some payback. This group has been put into the fire all season long in facing a big play passing offense after the next. Our DB's keep competing and keep getting better. Love their fire and their talent. They’re going to continue to get tested over the next four weeks but I’d bet they wouldn’t want it any other way.
Special Teams coverage: Whitworth was one of the better return teams Linfield has faced this season and out of the 8 times Linfield kicked off the ‘Cats pinned them behind the 30 yard line 7 times and behind the 20 yard line 3 times. This is an overlooked facet of the game of football that Linfield continues to excel in.
Not converting that short 1st and Goal: I know I’m nitpicking but this is one of the only letdown moments of the game on Saturday. Linfield knows they should have converted that short 1st and goal but kudos to Whitworth of stiffening up.
Not a thing. After pouring buckets all day on Friday the rain held off on Saturday. A big and rowdy crowd packed the ‘Catdome (hands down the best small college atmosphere on the West Coast), and the ‘Cats rolled. It was a great day in the valley.