Friday, September 28, 2007

Week 4: Cat Fight!!!!! (Linfield at Willamette)

I’m still not used to Willamette and Linfield playing this early in the year but I always look forward to the annual showdown. Typically, Linfield and Willamette played the last game of the year for about 7 straight years (1999-2005) but this year we get to open NWC play with our stone's throw rival.

Linfield has owned Willamette in recent years but this is always a hotly contested battle (sans 2004/20005). In 2006 Willamette was in right in the game until the end when Linfield was able to pull away. This year Willamette is an improved ball club that plays extremely hard. Don’t let the 1-3 record fool you…they’ve been in every game so far this year. I have a very high respect for Coach Speckman. His kids play the game the right way and he runs a first class program. I feel he's been hampered by Willamette's admissions policy the past few years and it has shown on the scoreboard. In fact, if the right job came up I could see Coach Speckman leaving Willamette in short order but that is just my thoughts.

You can read Linfield Sports preview here: Backyard Brawl or watch Coach Speckman give a preview of Linfield/Willamette here: Linfield Pre-Game Interview

Know Your Foe (Thanks!)

Just what is a Bearcat? According the Wikipedia a Bearcat is actually a Binturong. A Bearcat is not actually a bear or a cat and the original meaning is lost so people don’t really know where it came from. Who knew?

Other fun facts are that Bearcats are nocturnal and sleeps on branches. They like fruit but will eat eggs, leaves, and other small animals (rodents/birds). Deforestation has greatly thinned out their numbers (no wonder they dislike UPS so much), and can be vicious when corned.

Typically a Bearcat is the size of a smallish dog (20-30 lbs) and its bushy tail can act as a fifth hand which comes in handy when running the fly offense.

Wildcat11's key to victory: (Granted more goes to winning a game than just below but these are some of my highlighted areas)

Linfield Linebackers vs The Fly

No doubt our sophomore trio of LBs has shown some great flashes in the early season but no game this year will be as big of mental challenge as defending The Fly for the first time. No team will give you more false reads and ball faking deception than Willamette. They might not be as physical or athletic as WOU/HSU but if Willamette gets you out of your lane it can spell big trouble.


A thorn in Linfield’s side for the last part of 2006 and early 2007 is putting the ball on the ground. Again, I understand that turnovers will happen but we do need to protect the rock in a better manner and if we do turn it over it has to be “3 and out”. Willamette was able to get in their game with SOU last week on a turnover returned for a ‘Tug and we can’t afford to give WU free points.

Willamette Linebackers vs Linfield Slots

Willamette’s biggest asset on defense is their hard playing LBs. In watching the WOU/Willamette game they are athletic and fly to the ball. A big key to our offensive attack (in my humble opinion) is our slot receiver’s ability to make plays vs the Willamette Linebackers. If our slots will continue to make the tough catches to move the chains then Willamette is going to have a hard time defending the ‘Cats.

Linfield Running Game – Keep Them Honest

The best way to slow down a pass rush is to run the ball. We’re not going to be mistaken with a wishbone team but if we can prove to be effective running the ball in spots then it will allow the passing attack to be even more effective. But come on…that’s just football 101.

Overall, if we don’t put ourselves in bad spots with turnovers then I think we just have too much offense for Willamette. I like the ‘Cats by 2 TD’s if not more.

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