Monday, November 10, 2008

Cats let one slip away

Linfield had their chances but Western Oregon did enough late in the game to pull out the win at the Catdome. The ‘Cats were superior over WOU in just about ever statistic on the day except for the one that mattered the most…the scoreboard. Faithful of the ‘Cats, while disappointed with the loss, had to be a happy with the effort versus a Division II program with all the built-in advantages (scholarships, red-shirting, full contact spring football, cost of tuition, lighter admissions standards, etc). While WOU might have been a bigger physically in a few areas of the game there wasn’t much difference at all in terms of skill, speed, or ability.

The Good:

Defensive Effort: Linfield held the Wolves to their second lowest scoring output of the season (1st- Portland State, I-AA), only allowed 11 first downs, and only gave up 240 total yards on the day. Linfield’s defensive front was outstanding in swarming WOU quarterback, Josh Riddell, all game long. Riddell was held to 5-19 passing and was picked twice. The ‘Cats defensive backs deserve a great deal of praise in limiting a potent group of Western Oregon receivers.

Taylor Summers: The Senior defensive end was a force for the ‘Cats demanding constant double teams and was making or in plays from sideline to sideline. Summers, to me, has played like an All-American this season and it would be a crime if Taylor isn’t the named NWC defensive player of the year and doesn’t garner All-American recognition.

Taylor McCann and Paul Partlow: McCann, a Senior Safety, was critical for the ‘Cats defensive game plan and came up with two clutch interceptions. Partlow, Jr. Linebacker, also was huge for the ‘Cats in leading Linfield with 11 tackles, a sack, and another tackle for loss. The physical nature of the game vs WOU fit Paul’s style perfectly and he shined.

Offensive Line: A traditional strength of Western Oregon is the play of their defensive line, and while the Wolves had their moments, I thought the ‘Cats offensive line was fantastic in providing plenty of time in the passing game and did a good job in moving wolves around throughout the game.

Cole Franklin: Cole and the Catdome just agree with each other. The Sophomore signal caller had a fine game behind center with netting 85 yards rushing and was 19-24 throwing the ball.

The Bad:

Missed Red Zone opportunities: In a tight game every red-zone opportunity is huge and Linfield missed on two chances to overtake and apply the pressure on the Wolves. Coming away with touchdowns instead of empty chances in that 3rd quarter was the difference between victory and defeat.

Blocked PAT/Field Goals: Linfield suffered a blocked PAT and a blocked field goal on Saturday and that is the ‘Cats 4th blocked kick the past two weeks. When the ‘Cats have a weapon like
Scott Birkhofer booming kicks we have to get the job done to allow him to covert on easy kicks. The blocks were pivotal on Saturday.

Kick/Punt Coverage: WOU had a very talented return man but this has been an area that has hurt Linfield consistently during the year and it bit Linfield again on Saturday.

The Ugly:

None for Linfield but I want to write about something else here.

As a former Wildcat player I was filled with pride after Saturday. Now don’t get me wrong I wanted to win and thought it was a few mistakes that the ‘Cats made that resulted in the loss rather than it was something spectacular WOU did to win. But when I say I was proud it was because of the way this group of young men carry themselves as football players and as people. In victory and in defeat Linfield plays with absolute dignity and respect for the game and themselves. The ‘Cats won’t celebrate by stomping on somebody else’s logo while turning towards and taunting the team they just defeated. The ‘Cats won’t stand 5 yards away from the other team’s sideline running smack while a big play is breaking 40-yards downfield. Our ‘Cats don’t stand around in pre-game talking junk to the other team warming up. The ‘Cats just strive to play Linfield football and that respect and character they play with now as young people will carry on in their lives after college and into their professional/adult lives.

So while others may taunt, preen, and really just embarrass themselves, their families, and their college. I’ll continue to be proud of Linfield and how they handle the adversity along with the victories. Go ‘Cats!

Photo By Brad Thompson. Check out his Linfield pictures here.


Anonymous said...

A head coach who would permit and in fact encourage his team to conduct themselves on another team's field, or anywhere for that matter, in the way you describe, has obviously lost all respect for the game of football, himself and others. It is too bad the WOU administration has put such a person in a position where he can negatively influence student-athletes.

Wildcat 11 said...

All I'm saying is that I really appreciate that the values of Linfield football haven't changed over the years. I hope the 'Cats continue to share the credit in victory and prop each other up in defeat.

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly--Linfield football has strong values and it is sure to remain that way.

Bubs1856 said...

11- Glad you mention that...has always been a strong point of the program and something I believe in very deeply. I was so embarassed for WOU and especially the family of #52 that I wanted to vomit. Nothing like making a complete ass of yourself in front of 3000 people. Some things just never change and not sure programs like that will ever understand that with all the talent in the world, mediocrity will reign unless those types of things are changed.

Anonymous said...

And Linfield's arrogance continues.....

Anonymous said...

Arrogance? Since when does respecting the game of football and others, and expecting that your opponent's coaches and players will do the same, equate to arrogance?

d1shima said...

Thanks for you reflection on the game. As a parent of a 1st year player, it's good to hear about those values in the program

doc said...

"And Linfield's arrogance continues....."

Arrogance is earned then, I guess.

--that species of pride which consists in exorbitant claims of rank, dignity, estimation, or power, or which exalts the worth or importance of the person to an undue degree--

...and it's a matter of perspective.

Anonymous said...

Relative to WOU, Linfield is a classy program, but Linfield has been known to taunt as well. You guys just seem to voice your disdain when your squad isn't doing so hot.

Linfield runs a great football program, but there are a**holes on every team (Yes, even Linfield).

Wildcat 11 said...

I'm sure there are guys at Linfield that have and will taunt but the difference is that the Linfield staff will address and correct the issue with the player in question and not just turn a blind eye to it.

In my 14 years of being around Linfield football I can't remember seeing a Wildcat team or player do some of the junk that I witnessed last week from our opponent and it's sad that kind of behavior is tolerated and or accepted at the small college level.