Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Losing stinks but the glass is more than half full.

WOU stadium was packed full of small college football fans but unfortunately our Wildcats went down in defeat to a very good WOU squad 32-20. I’m not a big fan of losing and disappointed that we started the season on a losing note; however, even in defeat you can tell this 2007 Linfield team is going to be a contender in the West Region.

Slow Start

Honestly, the slow start just killed us. It makes it so much more difficult to beat a good team when you spot them a big early lead. The first three series were set up all on Linfield mistakes that were exploited by solid WOU play. We gave the Wolves prime position in their first series by flubbing a squib kick that allowed WOU to set up shop at mid-field, then the fumble recovery for TD, and lastly was the fumbled kick return that allowed WOU a short porch to kick a field gold to jump to that 16-0 lead. Chalk it up to first game kinks but it was a tough way to start.

However, let’s look at the very positive side of this. Our ‘Cats didn’t fold in the face of adversity. Instead of a pity party, Trevor Scharer and the offense would march down the field in two consecutive possessions for touchdowns in impressive fashion to bring Linfield within 3 points.

The Good:

Trevor Scharer: The Senior QB played a very good game. Trevor threw for 274 yards on 24 for 36 and had the ‘Cats on the verge getting Linfield within 5 points with about 6 minutes to play. The pick at the goal line was a mistake I don’t expect Trevor to make again this season. After Saturday night, everyone is expecting Trevor to have a huge 2007 season.

Wide Receiver Corp: Excellent. Six different wide outs caught passes and just showed the depth of this group. I don’t remember any real drops, there was the willingness to catch the ball in traffic, and I loved the way they attacked. This group is going to murder defensive backfields this season.

Pass protection: This was a huge question mark going into the game and I felt the O-Line did a very good job in allowing Trevor time to operate. I’m trying to remember the last defensive line Linfield faced that was as good as WOU’s 2007 front and honestly I can’t remember…maybe 1997’s Willamette? The inexperience group answered the call in the pass protection area and will be better for it.

Run Defense: In the first half of the game we really limited the WOU run game but as the game progressed in the second half those 2-3 yard gains turned into 4-5 yard pick-ups. Most of that was just wear from the big bodies of WOU but the ‘Cats speed should cause major problem for NWC foes in the running department.

Defending the deep ball: WOU had success in the intermediate game but the ‘Cats shut down the big play with three great picks.

The Not-So-Good:

Running Game: We did score our first TD on a Drew Regan plunge but that was really about it for the run game. Really though, I don’t know how many DIII teams could run against WOU’s front. But let’s not make excuses; we have to really improve in this aspect of the game if we want to be a legit playoff threat. We need better balance to take heat off the passing game and allow the ‘Cats to use more of the clock.

Pass Rush: The ‘Cats have to get more heat on the QB. That was a big reason why WOU had success in the intermediate passing game, WOU’s Thorson had all the time to set his feet and make good decisions. Some fans were complaining about our DB’s playing too soft but it’s near impossible to cover everyone when a QB has all day to go through his progression (Just ask Linfield opponents from 2004-2005).

Turnovers: Three is too many.

Overall: Losing stinks but I think Linfield fans can find the silver lining and realize WOU is a very good DII team and our ‘Cats are going to be a force as we move along in 2007. We have to clean up these areas because this Saturday’s game with HSU is as big of a game as they come. I’ll be back Thursday to talk ‘Cats and Cowboys.

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