Thursday, October 25, 2012

Game 7 preview: Linfield (6-0) vs Willamette (6-1)

This weekend is what college football is all about.
Here it is, the Northwest Conference game of the year (again). You have to love being part of a program where you get to witness big game after big game in just about every season. What an awesome program we get to be around. Once again, the Linfield Wildcats will be playing NWC foe Willamette in a huge football game that will have major implications on the remaining course of the 2012 season. With a win, Linfield would take a one game lead over PLU in the NWC title race with only two game remaining, and put the conference title and auto bid in a virtual headlock. If Willamette pulls out the victory, we have a three way tie on top of the standings. Assuming PLU, Linfield, and Willamette wins out, then you have to dive into the NWC football manual to see who would get the auto bid.  According to the handbook, Willamette would get the bid over PLU and Linfield (they have the head to head over Linfield and better overall record than PLU). That would leave Linfield into the at-large Pool C grouping, and that’s not a place ANY Northwest Conference team wants to be.

Yeah, Linfield would have a strong resume with the strength of schedule, but this is a committee of people primarily from the Midwest and East Coast we’re talking about.  If you put your faith in them to do the right thing I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. The real end-game is that Linfield has to win on Saturday to remove any doubts about their post-season aspirations. But winning on Saturday is not going to be easy, far from it.

Willamette is coming into this game coming off a tough loss to a fine PLU squad but that shouldn’t make you feel comfortable about this weekend. Willamette is a senior laden team with a big group of playmakers on offense, defense, and special teams. We all know at this point about the Bearcats dumping the Fly this offseason and going with an up-tempo attack, that can be balanced, but has morphed into an explosive passing game led by Junior QB Josh Dean. What makes Willamette’s offense so formidable is there isn’t one big target but numerous downfield receivers and a host of guys that can cut you up underneath. To top it off, their offense has a great safety valve in tight end Benny Weischedel, who has been a huge play making target for Dean. Complementing the passing attack, is a rush offense that has two fine athletes in Dylan Jones and Tyler Wyman.  You can understand why the Bearcats putting up 42 points per game.

Linfield is entering the game coming off of two highly productive wins over Whitworth and Lewis and Clark, and seems to be hitting their stride as a team. However, Willamette is a different animal than what the ‘Cats have faced the previous two Saturdays. The early season lined up a number of stiff challengers but it’s been over a month since Linfield has been truly tested on the field. I want to see how this group responds to the big uptick in competition and with so much riding on the line. Willamette is a very good team that is in a do-or-die situation. You know the Bearcat sense of urgency will be at a season high on Saturday and I want to find out if Linfield is going to match that intensity. I’m betting yes.

Get To Know A Wildcat

#27 Ian Zarosinski, Defensive Back, Junior

Favorite Place in Mac to Eat: Muchas Gracias after 12am

Favorite Movie: October Sky

Favorite Music: Country

Favorite TV Show: Sons of Anarchy

Favorite Pro Football team: Seaturkeys

Class I Most Look Forward to: Yoga

Mac or PC: PC

Cpu Homepage: Google

What do you use more, Smart Phone or CPU: I don't have a smart phone so definitely CPU

Twitter or Facebook: Facebook

Car or Truck: Gas is over 4 bucks/gallon! Car

Xbox, PS3, or WII: I don't own one but the Xbox is my favorite

Favorite Coach Haze Saying: Just a Skosh

Who on the team would claim to be the best fisherman: Forman

Line up the DB's in a 100 meter dash, who's winning: Good question

Do you have a hidden talent that folks would be surprised by: Swimming and cooking are my two hidden talents

Your Favorite Part About Playing at Linfield is: Playing in big games with a bunch of competitive guys

Post Linfield aspirations: I want to own a business and have a family

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Start Strong, Play Strong, Finish Strong: Winning on Saturday is going to take a full out effort for the ‘Cats in all three phases of the game. Linfield needs to come out early and establish a physical style of play and sustain that over 4 quarters. There will be adversity in this game, and if this team can work though it, they’ll be in great shape.

Lock Up The Willamette Run Game: Willamette is a fantastic passing team but what Linfield cannot afford to let happen is allow the Bearcats to establish a run game. If that happens, the Bearcat play action pass game will be all the more dangerous and expose Linfield to big play strikes. If the ‘Cats can limit the effectiveness of the rushing game, it will allow more help in coverage.

Continuous Pressure: Biggest pass rush game of the year for the ‘Cats. Linfield has to be able to get to Josh Dean and make him uncomfortable in the pocket. It won’t be easy as Dean is a hell of an athlete that can move well outside the pocket and pull it down if needed. Linfield has been great all season in getting to the QB and Saturday cannot be any different.

Run the ball with emphasis: While Willamette’s offense went under a major change the Bearcats defense is still featuring their 3-4 front that offers up a tough zone coverage defense. The Bearcats will bring pressure but they have no issues in only rushing 3 and dropping their athletic LB’s into coverage and make an offense earn everything they get. The ‘Cats must rush the ball with purpose and effectiveness in order to bring those LB’s closer into the box. If the ‘Cats can run the ball on Saturday, it will open up the other aspects of the ‘Cats offensive attack.

Linfield DBs and LBs doing their job: No need to put an “S” on the chest this weekend if you’re a Linfield Linebacker or Defensive Back. If the Bearcats make a play in the air, learn from it and move on to the next play. This group is going to get numerous chances to make plays and I want to see them continue to compete when the ball is in the air and be reliable tacklers. I believe the Linfield LBs and DBs have been building for a challenge like this and I’m looking forward to seeing how they respond.

Special Teams Doing Work: The Wildcat special teams can have a major impact on the outcome of the game on Saturday. The coverage teams need to continue to attack and win the field position battle and the Field Goal unit needs to be ready to make plays when they’re called upon.

Limit errors and take care of the ball: We know the story by now; When Linfield gets out of their own way and limit mental errors and takes care of the ball, they’re a damn tough team to beat. However, if the ‘Cats are sloppy with the ball and extend/hinder drives with silly mistakes they allow their opponents prime opportunities to stay in the game. It’s going to be a fired up ‘Catdome and Linfield needs to be above the noise and emotion of it all. Be steady and focused on the task at hand.

Overall

‘Cats by 7. I've already established a number of times that I think Willamette has a good team in 2012. They’re capable and have the weapons to knock off the ‘Cats if things go their way. With that said, I feel this Linfield team is a special group. There are no weaknesses on this roster and I truly feel if Linfield is sharp and poised this is their game to win. I’d be surprised if this game is anything but a tightly contested battle but I like Linfield to come out on top.

3 comments:

randall priester said...

This is the game I've been waiting for since the summer,we will be driving over 10 hours for this one.
Geaux Wildcats!!!

doc said...

Explosive review! :<)

BearcatChatter said...

Well said Wildcat11. I know we have our differences in thinking how this game will turn out, but I agree it's going to be an incredibly close game either way. Can't wait for Saturday!