Monday, November 12, 2012
‘Cats Win!!! Linfield pass by Pacific 51-17 and look towards the NCAA Playoffs.
The ‘Cats sent 16 Linfield Seniors out in style in Linfield’s 51-17 pasting of Pacific to end the season with the program's 4th consecutive Northwest Conference Title and 10th in the last 13 seasons. The ‘Cats used a 2nd quarter explosion to put the game out of reach of Pacific to run the ‘Cats NWC winning streak to 25 games. Pacific was game early but succumbed to the ‘Cats pace, speed, and skill as the game moved along as Linfield tacked up 500 yards of offense while holding Pacific to their lowest total of the year at 150 total yards (7 net yards rushing). But it was far from perfect for the ‘Cats as lingering season-long issues once again impeded the ‘Cats from reaching their top gear. The controllable issues were frustrating but that’s what I love about Linfield football. This Linfield team can blast a team by 34 points and they’re not satisfied with all aspects of their game. But that's required if this program wants to reach their ultimate goal because the path laid in front of Linfield is filled with serious contenders that are playing for same thing. To quote that terrible woman Cersei Lanister from the book “A Game of Thrones” (when she was warning Ned Stark of his impending doom): “When you play the game of thrones you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” That pretty much sums up the playoffs right there. There is no middle ground for Linfield anymore. It’s win or go home.
We’ll talk more PLU on Wednesday in our big bonanza game preview but we still need to put a wrap on Saturday. Some outstand performances from the ‘Cats in multiple areas and it was a day to celebrate what 16 seniors have left behind as a tremendous legacy of Linfield football. These Seniors have compiled an overall record of 40-4, 35-1 record during the regular season, 4 NCAA playoff appearances, and 4 Northwest Conference Championships. I’d go on more about what they’ve accomplished but this team and these Seniors are not done chasing their goals. There is still work to do. Let’s get to it!
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
Taking Care of Business: The Boxers came into this game fired up and looking to make a statement that they’ve arrived as a program. Pacific is doing a nice job and is well coached but the Boxers found out that there’s a difference being able to hang around for a quarter and being able to match a top level team for the duration of a game. Linfield met the challenge, worked through some early adversity, and wound up putting the screws to the Boxers to put the game away at half. That was some big boy football.
Rush Defense: Pacific gained 75 yards on 38 attempts (1.9 per) but Linfield dropped the Pacific RB’s for negative 8 yards and followed that up by sacking Boxer QB’s for minus 60 yards. Do the quick math and that’s 7 net yards of rushing on the day. Linfield is only allowing 70.8 rushing yards a game and this stat will be huge moving forward.
Mickey Inns and the ‘Cats passing attack: I think Mickey Inns put his stamp on Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors in lighting up Pacific’s secondary for 362 yards in a little over a half of work. Inns completed 24 of 35 passes for 4 touchdowns in spreading the ball around to 7 different targets. A big tip of the cap to the ‘Cats wide receivers for making play after play on Saturday. Inns and the ‘Cats wide receivers have been locked in during the 2nd half of the season.
Brynnan Hyland/Pressure: The ‘Cats Defense End is making a run at the record book this season. Right now Brynnan Hyland is on pace to match Eric Hedin’s school record of 22 sacks in a season as the Junior stands at 18 through 9 games (Also, ties another D-End who had 18 in 9 games during the 1997 season). Hyland has been dominate this season and should continue to press teams moving forward. As a whole, the ‘Cats lead Division III in sacks with 51 on the season as 17 total defenders have taken turns dropping QBs. D-End Kel Poomaihealani has been fantastic off the edge with 7 sacks of his own, Freshman DT Marq Randall has made an immediate impact this season with 5 sacks with a combination of his speed and strength, and D-End Michael MacClanthan has tallied 4 sacks to go along with his 22 total tackles. The ‘Cats pass rush was once on display in dropped Boxer QB’s 7 times on Saturday.
Making plays on the football: Great job by the ‘Cats defensive backs (we won’t talk about Forman’s drop), linebackers and receivers for getting after the football on Saturday. Pacific’s defensive backs challenged the ‘Cats but Linfield made some tremendous plays on the ball for big strikes and on the flip side the ‘Cats secondary did a nice job in make critical plays and only allowing the one deep strike late in the 3rd quarter.
Pass Protection: The ‘Cats offensive line did a fine job on Saturday in giving Inns time to operate as Pacific was a stunting and blitzing machine on Saturday. The Boxers only put Inns down once in 35 attempts as the ‘Cats offensive line gave Mickey the time he needed to shred Pacific apart.
Early Turnovers: 2 turnovers deep in Linfield territory directly led to Pacific scoring 10 points. The ‘Cats also put the ball on the turf two other times but were able to get it back. Have to take better care of the football or it’s going to cost this team huge.
Field Goal Team: 0 for 3 on Saturday with blocks and misses. Linfield HAS to have this group firing on all cylinders during the playoffs.
Penalties: 10 for 110. This has been the single biggest area to hold this Linfield team back from consistently reaching that top level of play. This weakness was fully on display on Saturday. Coach Smith has been telling his players that if this doesn’t get taken care of it’s going to cost this team the season. He's right. What are you going to do about it?