Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2012 Game 3 Preview: Linfield (2-0) at Cal Lutheran (1-0)

Hey, do we know each other?
For the 6th time in the past 29 games YOUR Linfield Wildcats will be lining up against the Kingsmen out of California Lutheran. At this point, I feel like I should just copy and paste the five previous game previews and call it good. Don’t take that last sentence as an indication that I’m tired of this match-up because I’m not. I think it’s great that the top two West Coast Division III programs have the stones to continue this series in the regular season when the chances are they might very well see each other again in the post season. It’s a credit to both Linfield and CLU that they’re willing to take the risk as this series will continue into 2013.

This game has big implications for both Linfield and CLU. It’s not the end-all for both programs because the reality is winning the NWC and SCIAC conference titles and the automatic bids to the playoffs holds a higher importance to both programs. With that said, this is a game that matters. Not so much in the rankings because those are just a fun bragging point for fans and schools to talk about. Rankings don’t mean much of anything when it comes to the real prize of winning this showdown. The prize is gaining the bonus points in the regional criteria when the NCAA playoff  committee sits down to determine who is in the playoffs and what teams will be hosting games. That’s the truth of the matter. Who wins on Saturday gains the inside track of hosting at least a first round playoff game if the winner can take care of their business for the remainder of the season. That’s kind of a big deal.

Both of these teams are entering Saturday’s game highly regarded in Division III. Linfield holds a number 5 ranking after starting the year 2-0 after downing Menlo (30-9) and Hardin-Simmons (49-35). The ‘Cats have shown a great amount of potential but also have been choppy with their play in the first two games. CLU kicked off their season ranked #11 (now #10) last week up at Pacific Lutheran and beat PLU 37-23. Both teams would tell you they have areas of needed growth and both are trying to shore up aspects of their game as the season progresses. To me, CLU is under ranked by the D3 community. I’ve seen Wesley, UMHB, Whitewater, and St. Thomas with my own eyes over the past three seasons and CLU is in that company along with the ‘Cats. This is the group of teams in D3 that are trying to kick in the door on Mount Union and Whitewater.

For this 2012 CLU team, I know they have a ton of talent. They had to replace some key contributors from their 2011 squad but that’s what good programs do…reload. CLU quarterback Kevin Ramay should have a fine 2012 season throwing the ball to one of the best receivers in Division III Eric Rodgers.  Along with Rodgers, CLU has a number of skillful receivers to spread the wealth around. Along with the potent passing game, CLU has hitched their wagon on explosive freshman running back Romello Goodman.  He looks to be a long term difference maker for the Kingsmen in the running game. Defensively, the Kingsmen will be just as stout with Rian Younker on the defensive line with a number of fast and physical linebackers and DB’s filling up the stat sheet.  I don't see much of a fall off, if any, from last season.

Linfield is coming into this game looking to continue to grow. I don’t think there is any question that the ‘Cats have talent to be a contender in the NWC and beyond but it’s a matter of ironing out some issues from the first two games that has caused a little up and down play. This weekend is a huge opportunity to grow for the ‘Cats. They’re going to be entering a hostile environment against a motivated and talented team. This Linfield team needs to prove they can go into this situation and come out with a win on the road against a top flight team. It should be an awesome football experience.

Get To Know A Wildcat

#41, Brynnan Hyland, Defensive End, Junior

Favorite Place in Mac to Eat: Artic Circle was the first meal I ever had in McMinnville and it hasn’t let me down yet.

Favorite Movie: Boondock Saints.

Favorite Music: I will listen to pretty much anything but the island influence on the team has turned me into a big reggae fan lately.

Favorite TV Show: They are very different shows but it’s a toss up between Workaholics and Sons of Anarchy.

Favorite Pro Football team: Born and raised New England Patriots fan.

Class I Most Look Forward to: Right now Spanish is my favorite class.

Mac or PC: Mac no question.

Cpu Homepage: The apple homepage because I haven’t changed it to anything cool in three years.

What do you use more, Smart Phone or CPU: Computer because my old school Iphone takes 7 minutes to load anything.

Twitter or Facebook: Facebook.

Car or Truck: I drive a beat up Subaru Outback.

Xbox, PS3, or WII: My mom wouldn’t let me play video games when I was a kid and I never got around to buying a system when I got older.

Favorite Coach Vaughan Saying: “Take an imaginary water break.”

Do you have a hidden talent that folks would be surprised by: My parents owned a restaurant while I was growing up so I can cook pretty well.

Your Favorite Part About Playing at Linfield is: The relationships that you build through working towards a common goal and understanding that the only way to achieve that goal is by doing everything the “Linfield Way”.

Post Linfield aspirations: I am an International Business major so I would like to go into a career that allows me to travel and possibly live in another country. I think it would be really interesting to learn another culture by being fully immersed in it.

Wildcat11’s Keys to Victory:

Embrace the Opportunity: Players come to Linfield to play in big games. This Saturday would qualify. The ‘Cats need to come into Saturday fully prepared to handle adversity for four full quarters. CLU is going to try to wear Linfield out over the duration of the game. The ‘Cats have to be prepared mentally and physically to go the distance. Enjoy the moment and the chance to compete in what should be a big game environment.

Contain the CLU run game: I think I’ve used this as a “key” in the previous five game previews but it holds true today. I’m probably a moron and should replace this with “limit the CLU passing game” because CLU will be dangerous in the air, however, if Linfield allows CLU to run wild on Saturday then it’s going to be a long flight home. The ‘Cats have to put a premium on containing the Kingsmen rushing attack. If the ‘Cats can do that then we have a fighting chance.

Balanced Linfield Offense: Josh Hill had two fantastic games in 2011 vs Cal Lutheran. I would imagine that the Kingsmen have spent a good chunk of their defensive preparation on focusing on the Linfield rushing attack. That’s why it’s vital for Mickey Inns and the ‘Cats receivers to pull their weight on Saturday and not allow CLU to load up the box on the ‘Cats. Linfield has to make plays in the passing game to allow Linfield to keep CLU guessing.

Limit big plays: I don’t doubt for a second that CLU is going to try to get after our younger secondary and see if they can hit some big plays. Linfield needs to tackle on defense at a high level and make sure they do a great job in not giving up anything easy.

Great on coverage teams: No short fields for CLU on Saturday. The Kingsmen offense will be explosive enough. Let’s make sure we converge on the ball and not get hurt in the return game.

Get points any opportunity that you can: Linfield needs to find a way to scrape, claw, and fight for every point they can on Saturday. Creating turnovers, special teams, offensive production, it’s going to take a complete team effort. Linfield needs to make plays on the ball and convert at every opportunity they can.


‘Cats by 3. This game is going to come down to which team can play better for the longer period of time. Linfield and Cal Lutheran are both capable of winning on Saturday and it would be lying if I wrote anything different. However, I have faith that this Linfield team is going to dig deep and find a way to get a big win on the road. If the ‘Cats play Linfield Football for four quarters then anything is possible.

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