Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Game 1 Preview: Linfield Vs. California Lutheran

Once again it's a battle of the SCIAC's and NWC's best.
It’s finally game week at the ‘Catdome and what a way for the ‘Cats to open up the 2011 season. For the 3rd time in Linfield’s last 15 games the opponent will once again be the defending SCIAC champions the Kingsmen of California Lutheran. There is no doubt that for both Linfield and CLU this is a giant game. Now the head coaches will spin the importance of this game and talk about how winning their respective conferences is the top priority and they are 100% correct that you have to win the auto-bid in order to guarantee that trip back to post-season play. Also, if you lose or win this game it isn’t the end of the season (Just ask the 2010 Wildcats), however, away from the reporters open mics both staffs just know what’s on the line come Saturday.

For California Lutheran they’re trying to get over the Linfield/NWC hump and working to establish themselves as a major player not only on the West Coast but in the West Region. The Kingsmen have a rough record in the Pacific Northwest in recent years as the Kingsmen have gone 2-5 in the PNW since 2006 and 0-4 in 2009 & 2010. Two of those 4 CLU recent PNW losses have come by Linfield in the opening round of the NCAA playoffs in 2009 & 2010. The opening game victory over the ‘Cats 2010 had to feel like they turned the tables in the series but Linfield decisively took back the momentum with the ‘Cats 42-26 playoff win. CLU just has to be sick of Linfield, sick of coming up to the ‘Catdome, and sick of not getting the better of this series. The motivation to end the losses in the PNW and to Linfield has to be at an all-time high in Thousand Oaks.

For Linfield, there are questions to be answered if the ‘Cats want to continue holding the edge over CLU and gain that inside track for hosting playoff games. There is no question that for years that driver of the Linfield offense is the quarterback and we’re going to have a QB taking his 1st starting snaps this Saturday versus a veteran and talented laden CLU defense. Mickey Inns has officially been named the starter for the ‘Cats and Inns has to answer the call for the ‘Cats offense. The Junior signal caller has spent two years in the ‘Cats system but has only had spot time during live action. Now is his opportunity to show he’s ready to lead this offense in 2011. However, the questions just don’t stop there; is the ‘Cats defensive line going to be able to hold up against the CLU rushing attack and apply pressure on CLU’s QB, Jake Laudenslayer? How are Linfield’s young Linebackers going to respond to their 1st look at live bullets? Is the ‘Cats offensive line going to keep bodies off of Inns and open up lanes for the ‘Cats rushing attack? Just how is this team going to respond to adversity this weekend?

There are so many interesting angles to this weekend’s game. CLU’s Daniel Mosier is back. Is Drew Fisher’s massive hit at the end of the playoff game going to be in the back of the minds of the CLU receiving corp? What wrinkles will CLU and Linfield have to roll out to gain the advantage? Will Linfield’s DBs be able to limit CLU’s Eric Rogers? Can the ‘Cats WR corp shake loose from two all-american cornerbacks? Can CLU do enough to put Linfield down at the ‘Catdome? Oh and it’s going to be 97-100 degrees on Saturday.

Better Get To Know A Wildcat
***Will be added Soon***

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Full 60 minutes of Linfield Football: I’ve written this many times but it’s 100% true. The ‘Cats need to focus on what makes the ‘Cats great year-in and year-out and that’s being solid tacklers, executing your individual assignments to the best of your ability, taking care of the football, stepping up when your number is called, and coming together as a team and responding to adversity. Linfield doesn’t have to be perfect on Saturday but they have to be focused and ready to turn it loose for a full 60 minutes.

Must Limit the CLU Rushing Attack: CLU has an explosive and balanced offense but there is no mistake as the CLU running games goes so does the Kingsmen offense. The Kingsmen are deep at running back and CLU senior, Daniel Mosier, who exploded for over 200 yards vs Linfield last year in the season opener is back. The ‘Cats defensive line needs to get the job done up front and keep bodies off our Linebackers and Safeties. Along with that we need to perform the most fundamental football skill well: tackle. Stick an arm out and Mosier is going to blow right past it.

Make CLU earn every point they get: The worst thing the ‘Cats can do is give CLU’s offense short porches to work with or give up defensive touchdowns. How many times this past weekend did you see a college football game turn on a dime because of big turnovers on offense or special teams? Yeah, I know, it happened often. Linfield has to put a premium on ball security and make CLU have to cover most of the field in order to score.

Run the ball with efficiency and with purpose: This challenge falls at the feet of the entire ‘Cats offensive unit and not just the O-Line. We need the receiving corp mixing it up, the offensive line creating those lanes, and the backs to explode and move the chains. It’s going to be a challenge of who’s tougher and more physical.

Make CLU respect the passing game: Coming off the back of stating that we have to run the ball, it’s going to be much more difficult doing that if CLU loads up the box. Mickey Inns and the receivers need to make CLU respect the passing game and keep those safeties from walking up and force them to hang back.

Get it done on Special Teams coverage: CLU seems to always be stocked with talented return men and this year won’t be different. The ‘Cats have to get down the field in coverage, contain and coverage like there is no tomorrow. No BIG RETURNS!

Don’t give up the Big Play: In the 9 offensive touchdowns that CLU scored last season in two games vs Linfield 5 of them where either runs or passes of 45, 49, 28, 39, and 27 yards. That is very un-Linfield like and a lot of that credit can go to Mosier and their All-American WR Eric Rogers. The 6’ 4” Rogers had a career day at the ‘Catdome last year and Linfield’s corners need to find a way to keep Rogers from making the big play.


‘Cats by 3. If Linfield executes, plays aggressive and physical football, then I have no doubt that the ‘Cats are going to battle it out and win this game. I haven’t talked about the heat very much but that will play a part of the game but that is something that neither CLU nor Linfield can control. What the ‘Cats can control is their effort and responses to the challenge. CLU is a team of experience, talent, and you know is highly motivated to put a steak in Linfield’s heart. The ‘Cats have to be ready to run to the battle, and if they are, then it’s going to be a great day in the Valley. Go ‘Cats!


d1shima said...

Great breakdown, 11.

Wish we could be there but will be watching on Stretch Internet.

criswyly said...

Mickey Inns?

Anonymous said...

Mickey Inns looked like the right QB last Saturday, good luck to him and the rest of the Cats against CLU. Its going to be a great day! can't wait. GO WILDCATS!

DucketsMalone7 said...

Go Cats! I'm really excited to see what this team can do and this is going to be a great test for them. Cats-17 CLU-10