Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Game 4 preview: Cats vs Rats

It’s homecoming week but this isn’t your stereotypical homecoming game when the home team gets some sappy program to come in and get pounded. No, this weekend is easily the NWC game of the week and has NWC title and playoff implications as the Whitworth Pirates (or Rats) come to the ‘Catdome to face off with our ‘Cats. There are plenty of story lines to make this match up a riveting contest. Will Linfield’s offense be healthy and can they produce? Will Whitworth be able to snuff the ‘Cats for the 3rd straight time? Can the ‘Cats put the rest the ghosts (turnovers) of the previous two losses and eliminate the Rats for the NWC title race? Either way it promises to be a whale of a game.

Know your Foe (mostly ripped from Wikipedia)

Rats – For years the Whitworth Pirates have been known around by the Linfield players as just the “Rats”. I have no idea when it started but it’s a nickname that has stuck to Whitworth and since I already did a segement on “Raiders/Pirates” let’s stick to the rodents.

The best know Rats are the Black Rat and the Brown Rat. The group is generally known as the Old World rats or true rats, and originated in Asia. This makes sense to me since Whitworth’s primary school color is black so there’s an easy bridge to cross.

Did you know that Ancient Romans did not generally differentiate between rats and mice, instead referring to the former as Mus Maximus (big mouse) and the latter as Mus Minimus (little mouse). That is kind of like Whitworth’s running back battery. Adam Anderson is a bigger bruiser (Mus Maximus) while littler Nelson Milton (Mus Minimus) is the change of pace back for the Rats.

In Indian tradition rats are recognized as the vehicle of Lord Ganesh and a rat's statue is always found in a temple of Ganesh. In the northwestern Indian city of Deshnoke, the rats at the Karni Mata Temple are held to be destined for reincarnation as Sadhus (Hindu holy men). The attending priests feed milk and grain to the rats, of which the pilgrims also partake. Eating food that has been touched by rats is considered a blessing from god. However, a Rat defender touching a Linfield quarterback should never be considered a blessing at all.

Whitworth was founded in 1883 in Sumner, Washington by George Whitworth as the Sumner Academy, it became Whitworth College in 1890. In 1899, Whitworth moved from Sumner to Tacoma, and in 1914, it moved from Tacoma to Spokane.

Whitworth's board of trustees voted to change the institution's official name to Whitworth University effective July 1, 2007[1].

Some of the Rats notable alumni include current Oregon State head coach and former Wildcat defensive coordinator Mike Riley, Ross H. Anderson who is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Peter Hunner internationally acclaimed artist and glassblower , and Tully’s kid.

Wildcat11’s keys to Victory

-Scoring points. Lighting up the scoreboard hasn’t really be the ‘Cats forte up to this point of the season but we will need to finds ways to put the ball in the end zone on Saturday. The offensive line has played very well so far this season but the injury bug in the offensive skill positions has hurt the continuity this season. It’s been frustrating because it looks like the offense is “this close” to doing some really good things but the ‘Cats really need to finish drives and not put it all on the defense and special teams.

-Turnovers. This has been the biggest reason why Whitworth has overcome Linfield the past two seasons. The Rats have scored defensive touchdowns the past two games and that has been the difference. Whitworth’s style is to take chances and hawk after the ball so the ‘Cats must win this battle and put a high priority on ball security.

-Limit Adam Anderson. The Rats are a run first and run second team and they don’t hide the fact the will put the ball in Adam Anderson’s hands via the run, pass, punt return, kickoff return game. He’s their do-everything offensive players and the ‘Cats HAVE to win the battle upfront and in special teams in order to minimize Anderson’s impact in the ball game.

-Win in special teams. With this the type of game that I could see developing special teams could wind up having an incredible impact in this contest. The ‘Cats need to win on Special teams in the form of catching the ball (kickoffs/punts), great coverage on kickoffs and punts, and making sure we don’t give up any tips or blocks.

-Being emotionally ready. This current ‘Cats team has shown they has resolve with the near comeback win at HSU, the defensive slugfest vs SOU, and the grinding win last week. However, this game will peal back another layer and show if this team is ready for primetime. I’m not worried about the ‘Cats being flat on Saturday but I do worry about being too jacked up. The players just need to be prepared and focused on their job and not let a rush of emotions at the start of the game flatten out as the contest wears on. If the ‘Cats just take it one snap at a time we’ll be fine.


-‘Cats by 7. I don’t see Whitoworth’s Coach Tully going away from the formula that has worked the past two seasons. He’s going to try to play the field position game, keep it somewhat conservative on offense, and try to force the ‘Cats offense into the big mistakes that the Rats can capitalize on. Even with Cole Franklin most likely being unavailable this weekend I do like the physical nature of the ‘Cats vs this Whitworth team. Our offensive line should be able to move bodies and Linfield will be able to run the ball and that will be the big difference this year versus the past two.

This will be the type of game that could come down to a handful of plays but I feel its Linfield’s game to win if they can execute the coaching staff’s game plan.

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