Thursday, September 24, 2009

Game 3 Preview: Linfield @ Southern Oregon

A tough and physical game awaits our Linfield Wildcats this Saturday night at 6pm in Ashland, Oregon. The ‘Cats will head south on I-5 to take on long standing non-DIII rival Southern Oregon (NAIA – Independent). Don’t let the 1-2 record of SOU fool you for one second…this isn’t a 1-2 team. Southern started off the year by coming back on Eastern Oregon (3-1 and just cracked the NAIA top 25), understandably lost to I-AA Portland State (but created 6 turnovers vs PSU), and just dropped another heart breaker to a good Willamette team. In playing a different schedule or have the breaks fall another way, SOU could easily be sitting on 3-0.

While Linfield has been able to string together seven consecutive wins over the Raiders it hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s been rather remarkable considering that SOU/Linfield has gone to overtime twice and have had multiple games come down to the wire since 2000. It has been a battle just about every single time out and I expect the same type of game this weekend.

Southern Oregon is big, fast, athletic, and is going to want to punch Linfield in the mouth to close out their 2009 home schedule (yeah, only three home games and they are done in September…crazy). Linfield has to be mentally ready to execute the staff's game plan and make plays if our ‘Cats want to leave the Rogue Valley with a win. I love the SOU/Linfield games but I’m already in knots thinking about the contest. In fact, Wildcat11 is going to take a break and grab some Mylanta.

Get to Know A Raider: Senior Offensive Lineman, Jordan Myers
Why only get to know the backs? Let's start to dig into the big fellas up front and SOU has plenty of earth movers we could choose from but WC11 decided that Jordan Myers would be the guy because he is the anchor and main cog of the Raider line. The coaching staff and players are well aware of Myers' ability and respect the big fella.

Vitals: #67, 6' 7", 275 lbs. Senior (Jordan is a big dude)

Hometown: Estacada, Oregon

High School:
Estacada High

Honors: Named NAIA All-Independant for 2008 Season, this is his forth year as a starter

General Interests: Football, Hanging out at the river with his buddies (With Jordan on those but there isn't really a good river near my house to hang out at so I'll just have to go to the Deluxe instead)

Music: Rap, Rock, and a little bit of Country (WC11 is on that script 100%)

Movies:Cinderella Man, CRASH, Anchor Man, Super Troopers (Dig Anchor Man but I thought Super Troopers was a little overrated (The Meow bit was great).

TV: Nip/Tuck, ESPN, ESPN2, MTV, MTV2, VH1 (Nip/Tuck is one show that Jordan and I are going to have to disagree on. Hate that show but I like NCIS so what do I really know about good TV?)

Info taken from Jordan's Myspace page:

Wildcat11’s Keys to Victory:

MUST limit running back Brandon Baldwin: The Sophomore transfer from Shasta College has been the work horse early in the Raiders season. Baldwin racked up 195 yards vs. Eastern Oregon and had 171 yards vs Willamette (on top of that a 60 yard TD run was called back on a penalty away from the play). SOU will throw the ball often but the key for that offense is feeding Baldwin and pounding the defense up front. Linfield has been strong against the run but we have played against two spread offenses that were heavy on the pass and outside hitting run plays. This will be the test on if our young defensive line and outstanding linebackers can stand up to the SOU line and a strong tailback. This is a huge key of the game.

Have to be able to run the ball: While stopping the SOU rush attack is vital for Linfield, just as important is the ‘Cats ability to run the ball. SOU has been stiff against their first two "like opponents" (EOU and Willamette) in surrendering only 3.5 yards a carry. Aaron Williams will step into the starting roll for injured Simon Lamson but Williams has shown so far this early season he’s a capable big play hitter. The question for the ‘Cats offense is who will step up and perform as the 2nd running back?

Be great Tacklers: This could have been folded into the defensive point above but I wanted to break it out to really spotlight the importance of this basic football fundamental. If we miss tackles and don’t rally to the ball the Raiders will make Linfield pay. The better we tackle the harder we’re going to make the Raider offense work.

Be special on special teams: SOU has blocked punts and PATs so far on the year. The Raiders have been solid on special team but Linfield has to be better. The ‘Cats have been much improved this season on special teams and I like the aggressiveness of the unit. This is the type of game where a breakdown in special teams by either team could play a pivotal role in the outcome. Let’s make sure the ‘Cats are not the one with the break down.

Linfield WR’s vs SOU’s DBs: The ‘Cats Wide Receivers have been great so far this early season. They’ve made plays but this week is different. The WR core will be paired against the best collection of DBs the might face all year long. Linfield is going to have to be able to make plays in the passing game to help loosen up the running lanes so it’s up to the WR core to step up to the challenge and get down and dirty.

Road Warrior mentality: For the second week in a row the ‘Cats have a long road trip. Last week was by plane and this week by bus. The ‘Cats cannot wait for a half to start playing Linfield football. Again, I’m not saying Linfield needs to come out sky high on emotion but the ‘Cats just need to be wound to that right tension baby. Be ready to ride the wave of SOU emotion, settle in, and then play Wildcat football for 60 minutes.


‘Cats by 7. This might just be the biggest test yet in this young season. If Linfield can remain balanced on offense and do a respectful job vs the fantastic SOU run game then I do like the ‘Cats chances of pulling out a well earned win. It should be an electric atmosphere as these two teams have played classic after classic. Let’s just hope Linfield has a focused week of practice and comes with their lunch pail and hard hat in hand.

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