Monday, September 17, 2012
'Cats Win! Linfield kicks it in Cali in a tremendous 33-30 win over CLU.
Wow. What a great football game on Saturday in Thousand Oaks and what a great day to be a Wildcat. As you know by now YOUR Linfield Wildcats prevailed in a dramatic 33-30 victory in a back-and-forth contest. Linfield showed tremendous guts and skill on a sizzling hot day. There were multiple opportunities for the ‘Cats quit in that fourth quarter when CLU struck what looked like a knockout blow but this group of Wildcats kept answering the bell…again and again and again. You can look at the stats, drive breakdowns, yards per completion, etc, etc. But what can’t be quantitated in a stat sheet from Saturday was the amount of heart and determination this 2012 team showed. It was a game that revealed what this group is made of and it turns out this Linfield team is made up of a group of young people that believe in each other and are incredibly resilient. Granted, mistakes were made by the ‘Cats, as it was far from a perfectly played game (both sides would say that), but when it came down to it Linfield showed why this program believes they have great things in front of them. Saturday was a classic Linfield team win. Team, Excellence, Attitude, Class.
With the win, Linfield moves up in the polls (with UWW and Wesley losing) to number three and CLU actually moved up a spot to number 9. I agree with that 100% I had CLU in my top ten before Saturday and they remained there after Saturday. They’re a darn good team that is going to light up the SCIAC like a Christmas tree and should be representing their conference in the playoffs once again. Linfield’s season on the other hand just became that more interesting and challenging.
If the ‘Cats thought the target on their back was big before Saturday it just grew that much larger. The NWC is an improved conference that has a number of landmines in the way. Linfield and PLU both have a bye week as they get ready for their September 29th showdown and it’s going to be a good one. The ‘Lutes are a dangerous young team that is going to be amped for the ‘Cats. Linfield cannot take their foot off the gas and feel fat and happy about a ranking in a poll that doesn’t really matter. The real work is in front of them as the challengers in the NWC are going to be one tough out after the next. This next phase of the season is where the rubber meets the road for this 2012 Linfield Wildcats squad. However, after seeing their heart this Saturday I feel this team is going to be up for the challenge.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Men of Action: I boiled over with pride as the clock hit 00:00. How could you not? This group of young men kept getting back on their feet, dusting themselves off, and sprang right back into action. Everything was against them on Saturday (hostile environment, flight/overnight trip, stinking hot as heck, shorthanded roster) and this group kept responding time and again.
Rushing Attack/Josh Hill: Love what this young offensive line is all about right now. They played against a physical and fast defensive front on Saturday and did a great job in battling and getting on bodies. And what can you say about Josh Hill? I know. Josh Hill is a freaking stud. 3rd consecutive game J-Hill has clipped the 100 yard rushing mark as he did it on 22 carries for 134 yards (6.1 average). Saturday was a great effort in the rushing game by the line, receivers, and ‘Cat backs against a team that made stopping the rush their #1 priority.
Mickey Inns, Offensive Line, and WR: CLU’s defensive backs where darn tough. They were formidable. However, I came away with the utmost respect for how hard our receivers battled on Saturday, for the major set on Mickey Inns for sitting in that pocket for as long as he did, and for our offensive line/running backs for providing great protection on the day. The ‘Cats passing attack kept coming at CLU and came up with HUGE plays to set up those late field goals.
Rushing Defense: Freaking great day against the rush on Saturday. CLU did pop that huge run late in the game but if you take that off the books (I know that’s cherry picking but…) the ‘Cats defense would have yielded only 48 rushing yards on 36 carries (1.3 yards per rush). I thought our tackling and speed to the ball was outstanding. The 'Cats linebackers and defensive line had a flat our awesome day on the clock. BANG, BANG
Pass Rush: The official stats say 5 sacks for Linfield and that’s incorrect. Linfield had two more sacks that they listed as tackles for loss. I’m sorry but when the QB is running for his life after dropping back and gets creamed that’s not a rush for loss, that’s a sack. The Linfield pressure was so great that CLU had to switch up to a three step game for most of the contest and I understand why. CLU’s line is large but the ‘Cats had way too much speed for them to contend with.
Defensive Backs competing their backsides off: CLU got their yards in the passing game and threw a couple of TDs but I was thrilled with the way our fresh faced defensive backfield competed. This group worked so dang hard against a tremendously skilled set of receivers. Freshman Chad Coburn had a great pick 6 to start the second half, the DBs had other pick chances, knockdowns, and what I liked the most was their physicality. They are not afraid to mix it up and they’re only going to continue to improve.
Special Teams Coverage Units: I have to give a major shootout to a big unsung hero this season, punter Josh Repp. He is quietly having a great senior season and was once again clutch against CLU. Repp was so savvy in hanging onto the ball for an instant longer when he didn’t feel pressure before releasing another great punt. He averaged 42 yards a punt on 5 tries and has been solid as a rock through the first three games. Along with that, our kick coverage (kickoff and punt) had another great day. Their job is so vital to the outcome of the game but goes mostly unnoticed. Five all-rights to our coverage teams as they continue to be one of the best units in D3.
Field Goal Team/Josh Kay: Wow…what an incredible day for the FG unit and Josh Kay. Coming into the game this group was a big fat 0-3 and had multiple problems (blocking, holding, snapping, kicking). They were underperforming in a big way but that all changed on Saturday. Kay was 4 for 4 on the day and hit from distances of 45, 35, 41, and the game winner with 5 seconds left at 39 yards. Are you kidding me? What an electric day from this unit and Mr. Kay. That was the definition of mental toughness.
Missed Opportunities/Turnovers: Man, the ‘Cats had MULTIPLE chances to take this game by the throat in the 2nd and 3rd quarter of play. We had two big turnovers deep in CLU territory that might have stopped the game from being seized by the ‘Cats. If Linfield converts the ‘Cats might have been able to run away and hide with the victory but both of those turnovers directly led to CLU scores that tied the contest at the end of the 1st half and in the 3rd quarter. Linfield lost the turnover battle (3-1) and still found a way to win. That’s remarkable but I’m not sure if the ‘Cats will be able to get away with that again.
Penalties: 15 penalties for 142 yards. Yikes! CLU also had a truckload (17 for 143) but that’s two games out of three where Linfield was penalized way too much. A number of calls, against both Linfield and CLU were questionable, but some of Linfield’s penalties were just dumb decision making. The players have to make an adjustment and get that number down much lower. Quit hurting yourself with things you can control.
CLU Photographer not owning his flub: First let me say the folks at Cal Lutheran were first class all the way leading up to Saturday and on game day. The Sports Information folks were accommodating and responsive to field pass requests, the administration and people working the game were welcoming and nice. They were great.
CLU’s set up at their stadium so that there is no fencing or guard rail between the visitor bleachers and visitor sideline. It was very cool for a number of Linfield fans to be able to be close to the action and folks kept the appropriate distance from the action. The ‘Cats fans used what’s known as “common sense”. That policy is nice and relaxed but there is always someone looking to take advantage of kindness and that someone was a photographer wearing CLU gear on the Linfield sideline.
It’s an emotional game and my fandom boils over too. That’s why I try to work the Linfield sideline during games so I’m not crossing the line as someone who’s provided the privilege of working that close to the action. If you’re a photographer, video guy, or someone with a pass you have to keep yourself in check, not mix it up with fans on the sideline, and if you do have allegiance to one team and you’re on the other sideline you HAVE to keep your mouth shut. Sometimes I have to pull it back myself but this clown on Saturday blew right pass any line of decorum and wound up paying the price.
Early in the game this guy was right by the Linfield team box giving big old first down signs and cheering for the Kingsmen when they made big plays. He was getting caught up in the emotion and was verbally mixing it up with Linfield fans on the sideline. It came to the point in the 1st quarter where I talked to him for a moment and said that he’s asking for trouble by getting into it with the Linfield fans and that he needs to just work the game.
Fast forward later in the 2nd quarter and the ‘Cats have the ball on the 44 yard line on a 2nd and 22. In the video you can see this CLU fan photographer set up on the 18 yard line right NEXT to the sideline. The ‘Cats run a draw to Hill for 11 yards and the side/back judge on the ‘Cats sideline back peddles taking in the action. Next thing you know the photographer and judge collide and the judge lands right on his backside. The official gets up and throws a flag on LINFIELD for sideline interference. Hey, the guy was wearing purple..must have been a Linfield guy. I was further down field and had no idea what transpired. I ran up to the box and people started looking at me like I was the one who interfered.
That’s when I heard the Linfield faithful screaming at us. I turned around and see at least a dozen ‘Cat fans pointing at this CLU photographer who was trying to freaking hide behind everyone. His head was down and was trying to shuffle behind a light post in the corner. Those fans were not having it as they parted like the Red Sea and keep calling him out. When I saw the culprit I started giving the judge who was tripped and the linesman an earful pointing out the now retreating photog. “That’s a CLU photographer NOT Linfield.” At that point, the photographer shuffled out behind a fence and started RUNNING FOR THE HILLS. It was a “feet don’t fail me now” moment as it looked like a grizzly bear was chasing this clown down. The judge confirmed that the guy doing the Usain Bolt impersonation was a CLU photographer and the call was revered to a 15-yard penalty on CLU instead of Linfield. CLASSIC.
We all make mistakes but you better be willing to stay there and take your reprimand/banning like a man instead of a little kid running home to momma. Easily the funniest “ugly” of the week.