Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Game 9 Preview: Linfield @ Pacific Lutheran

Sparks Stadium up in Puyallup, Washington is Linfield’s final destination this season and it could be a real treat of a game. PLU’s youth is starting to produce while the ‘Cats are looking to cap their season on the right foot after a fine effort last week versus Western Oregon. Look, there is a huge difference between 5-4 and 6-3 for Linfield, the players, and its fans. This is a huge game, in fact, I’m saying this is a must-win for Linfield to close out the season and set the stage for 2009. This is no time for the “what if’s” of 2008 as the ‘Cats just need to work on playing a great Linfield style game.

Know Your Foe

-Lutes. Pretty self explanatory as “Lutes” is short for “Lutherans”. However for those of you that are new to Linfield and NWC football, PLU had a different mascot all the way up to 1970’s. Before the name change, PLU was known as the “Knights”. Crazy huh? Knights just don’t fit at all with the jolly feel good PLU football team. Sort of like before Linfield officially adopted “Wildcats” our athletic teams used “Baptists” as the teams’ nickname.

While the football game is played up at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Washington don’t go looking for the PLU campus near the stadium. The university is actually located 15 minutes West of Sparks in Parkland, Washington. While PLU has a nice little campus, Parkland is a good place to go if you want to get mugged.

Per Wikipedia: As of February 2008, PLU had a student population of 3,443 and approximately 280 full-time faculty. It currently consists of the College of Arts and Sciences (consisting of the Division of Humanities, the Division of Natural Sciences, and the Division of Social Sciences), the School of Arts and Communication, the School of Business, the School of Education and Movement Studies, and the School of Nursing.

Founded in 1890 by Scandinavian immigrants to further Lutheran higher education in the Pacific Northwest, PLU is an institution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The school merged with Everett's Columbia College in 1920, became a two-year school, and resumed operations as Pacific Lutheran College. Spokane College merged with Pacific Lutheran College nine years later. PLC resumed awarding four-year degrees in 1939. Pacific Lutheran gained university status in 1960. PLU retains strong ties with its Scandinavian heritage, having been visited multiple times by Norwegian and Swedish monarchs and the Norwegian Parliament.

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

-Contain PLU’s Greg Ford. The sophomore has been the NWC’s biggest playmaking and home run threat this season. PLU is going to do their best to try to get Ford the ball in open space so it’s imperative for the ‘Cats to pay special attention to him. If Ford is able to get off then it’s going to be a fight to the end for Linfield.

-Pressure on Michael Bryne. PLU is dead last in the conference with only 43 total rushing yards a game. That’s a crazy stat and should tell you everything you need to know about the ‘Lutes game plan; throw, throw, and throw some more. Linfield has to put a premium on its pressure again this week, but at the same time you have to honor all of the slip/under screens that I’m sure PLU is going to use to try to keep Linfield’s front defenders honest.

-Protect our Quarterbacks. PLU is second in the conference in total sacks with 21 and I’m sure the ‘Lutes are going to be throwing the Kitchen sink at us in passing situations. While the Lutes may not be huge they should be plenty fast and will try to create havoc upfront with their pressure scheme.

-Punish PLU on the Ground. If Linfield is going to control this game then we have to be able to consistently run the ball between the tackles and on the edges. The offense needs to come to play this Saturday because PLU does have a few home run threats.

-A Commitment to Finish Strong. The Linfield Seniors need to take responsibility here and make sure the team’s mind is right and the sole focus on Saturday is going up to Sparks Stadium and playing the ‘Cats best game of the year. It would be easy to slip and phone it in and if Linfield has that approach on Saturday it could wind up being a fatal error. Remember: Start To Finish.


-‘Cats by 10. PLU’s offense that hurt them so bad at the beginning of the year has started to come into shape with the development of the PLU wide receiver crop. PLU has nothing to lose and everything to gain this weekend and that makes for a dangerous opponent. However, I believe Linfield will be focused on the task at hand and will be too physical up front defensively to every allow PLU QB Michael Bryne to ever get in a rhythm. I look for Linfield to bang out some long drive and salt this game away in the 2nd half. Let’s finish strong ‘Cats!

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