Monday, April 23, 2012

2012 Linfield Football Spring Review: QB's

Mickey Inns lit up the Northwest Conference in 2011.
One of the big questions headed into the 2011 season was without a doubt just who would be the quarterback for the Linfield College Wildcats and how could they fill the shoes of the departed All-American Aaron Boehme? The answer came in the form of Mickey Inns, as the junior not only took the reins of the Wildcat offense, but captured 1st team All-NWC honors in putting up 2,855 passing yards with 31 TD passes to only 7 interceptions.

It didn’t start out gangbusters for Mickey as he only completed 9 of 24 passes for 122 yards in the season opening win vs CLU but while those from the outside only saw the stat line, those that attended the game saw the intangibles that Inns would build upon as the season progressed. What I’m talking about is poise and remaining steady under the pressure he faced. We talked about it after the game 1 performance but you could see Inns in total control himself and the offense.

While some still questioned if Mickey was “the guy” even after the ‘Cats 2-0 start, all of that was laid to rest after the ‘Cats rain soaked 20-10 win to open up NWC play down at Willamette. Inns was fantastic in going 20-37 for 329 yards in a relentless drenching, and at that point, it was nothing but game after game of racking up multiple TD scores while posting up games of big passing yardage. So with a huge year under his belt, what will the senior QB do as an encore? We’re going to have to wait to see as once again the ‘Cats have murder’s row of non-conference games to jump into but with an explosive running game and a fleet of slick receivers the odds are in Inns’ favor to have another huge year in the ‘Catdome.

Returning Starter

Mickey Inns,  6-2,  205lbs, Sr, Gresham, Ore.

Steady Vet

Josh Yoder, 6-4,  220lbs,  Jr, Hubbard, Ore.

Up and Coming 

Matt Yarbrough, 6-0, 195lbs, So,  Tualatin, Ore.

Levi Altringer, 6-4, 200lbs, So,  Meridian, Idaho

Talking Ball with offensive coach Jim Nagel 
QB coach Jim Nagel will be entering his 9th year on the 'Cats coaching Staff.
(Wildcat11) Coach Nagel you had to be fired up about the performance of the offensive unit last season: 39.9 points per game, close to a 50/50 pass-to-run ratio, 432 yards per game, and a number of new faces at key positions that had a breakout season. With that said,  with experienced players at some key positions does the expectation of this offensive unit rise in the eyes of the coaching staff? 

(Jim Nagel) I thought our offensive unit performed very well last year as evidenced by the stats. However, loosing that last game always puts somewhat of a damper on your season in reflection. That said, with the number of quality returning starters, the outlook for the coming season does have our staff extremely excited.

(WC11) Let’s change gears and talk about your quarterbacks. Headed into 2011 season the program just came off of two dominate All-American caliber seasons from Aaron Boehme. Looking back now was it all a surprise to you that Mickey Inns posted up the stat line of 213 completions out of 352 attempts (60.5 completion percentage), 31 TDs to 7 picks, 2,855 passing yards, an average of 259.5 yards per game? That is a fantastic year for a player that had huge shoes to fill. At what point last season did you say to yourself "OK, Mickey is going to have a great year."

(JN) Having watched Mickey in practice there was little doubt that he would perform well. At the same time, you never know how an untested QB will respond to the pressure of being the guy at such a key position. After the Cal Lutheran game, I think we knew he was going to handle pressure with no problem and we were set for a good season. Our offense puts a tremendous load on the quarterback. He not only has to be physically talented, but mentally bright as well.

(WC11) During this off-season what improvements to Mickey's game have you seen and what areas of improvement have you been stressing to him? 

(JN) Last year Mickey handled the passing game extremely well, and we tried to limit what we asked him to do in the run game. This year we are going to ask him to do more of the same in the passing game, but we are going to put more on him in the run game as well. We have been stressing improvement in his quickness, speed and agility. We want him to be more mobile, and when things break down in the passing game, be able to scramble and make some big plays for us.

(WC11) I've had a number of Linfield fans stop me to talk football and many of them would mention Josh Yoder. The comments were pretty much the same "The 'Cats have to find a way to get that guy on the field." I have to say I agree with them. That's not a slight towards Mickey but a rather a compliment towards Yoder's ability to make plays with his feet. It has to be a delicate balance of not wanting to break up the rhythm of your starter but also not bypassing a player that can produce. With that said, do you see an increased roll in the offense this year for Yoder? 

(JN) Josh Yoder would probably start for most other D-III schools in the country, but because he was behind the talents of Mickey, that didn’t happen last year. He waited in the wings, worked hard and continued to improve. Particularly as the season progressed, we kept thinking we did need to find ways to get him into the game, and we did that. Next season, we have that same thinking, but with added confidence in Josh. His performance this spring has even got us more convinced he needs to play a bigger role for us. Just how we are going to do that, we are not sure, but I am sure we will find a way.

(WC11) I’d like to talk about last year’s freshmen. With Matt Yarbrough, it looks like you have a QB that moves very well, and what time he had last season, he looks like he throws an accurate ball outside the pocket. I didn't get a chance to see Altringer but he has outstanding pedigree coming out of Idaho (as does Yarbrough out of Tualatin) and appears to be more of a traditional pocket passer. What do you see as the future for both of these QBs in the program and could you breakdown what positives they bring to the position? 

(JN) Both Matt and Levi Altringer are talented athletes who continue to improve and learn our offense. This spring will go a long way in determining what kind of a role they will have next fall. We trust they will continue their improvement and be ready to step in as needed.

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