Wednesday, November 21, 2012

2012 Playoff Round 2 Preview: Linfield (10-0) vs North Central (9-2)

I'm thankful for another weekend at the 'Catdome!
I can’t wait till Saturday. The ‘Cats have a monster game starting at noon on Saturday in the ‘Catdome against their toughest challenge of the 2012 season. Coming to the ‘Catdome is the 2012 co-champion of The College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW), The North Central Cardinals out of Naperville, Ill. The Cardinals (9-2) is a North Region team that was shipped out into the Far West cluster of PLU, Linfield, and Cal Lutheran and made a huge splash in backhanding the Kingsmen 41-21 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. NCC used a massive rushing attack, big pass plays, and a swarming defense to end the Kingsmen post season in the 1st week for the 4th year in a row. Even with the ‘Cats in the middle of a tight game with PLU, you could hear a murmur roll through the ‘Catdome when that NCC/CLU score was announced. Based on NCC’s past seasons results, their reputation around the Division III universe, and what they did against a team that has played Linfield close, you have to know Linfield is going to have to play a complete game to advance.

While other 1 seeds in the playoff brackets were having glorified scrimmages against a lineup of weak conference auto-qualifiers the ‘Cats had to fight to the final minute of their game against a tough conference opponent that knows the ‘Cats better than anyone in the playoff field. It wasn’t the prettiest of Wildcat playoff victories but like I mentioned on Monday I could care less about style points. Just win and advance baby. That’s the beauty of the playoffs; each win is a new lease on life. A clean slate against the next worthy opponent to test your skill and see if you have the goods to take another step towards the ultimate prize in Division III. I’ve written about this all year long but when this Linfield team has breakdowns and sputters in one area of the game, they can be beaten. However, when the ‘Cats are on-point and clicking along there are only a few teams in the country that can reach that gear. This Saturday one of those teams is visiting the ‘Catdome.

This is what I’m looking forward to the most this weekend. There are more than whispers that Linfield is vulnerable this weekend against NCC. With the NCC/CLU results and that fact Linfield struggled with PLU, I can understand where that is coming from. I get it.   Linfield’s been a popular choice to do big things this season and I’m sensing a change in the tide of the Wildcat goodwill amongst those that follow closely. I’m looking forward to seeing how this Linfield team responses and if they can take their game to the next level against a hell of a North Central team. Forget the Civil War…get to the ‘Catdome!

Get To Know A Wildcat

#49 KeAlii Poomaihealani, Defensive End, Junior

Favorite Place in Mac to Eat: A three way tie between Wildwood, Sandwich Express, and Geraldi's

Favorite Movie: Big Denzel fan. Another three way tie between John Q, American Gangster, and Training day. He Got Game was a good one too.

Favorite Music: Mostly reggae. I been on my slow jams playlist recently though.

Favorite TV Show: Cartoon Network. Tom & Jerry, Looney Tunes, etc. 90's & early 2000's cartoons are way better then whats on cartoon network now though.

Favorite Pro Football team: Don't have a favorite team, but I like Detroit Lions D-Line with Fairley and Suh on the interior. Nastiest guys in the trenches in the past few years, in my opinion.

Class I Most Look Forward to: Tough one, I look forward to all of my classes but if I had to pick one it would be Philosophy East & West.

Mac or PC: Mac

Cpu Homepage: Linfield Email

What do you use more, Smart Phone or CPU: Iphone

Twitter or Facebook: Facebook. Recently thought about deleting myself from the social networking world. Call it virtual suicidal thoughts.

Car or Truck: Car

Xbox, PS3, or WII: Neither

Favorite Coach Vaughan Saying: "Like a bull in a china shop"

All the Linfield D-Line goes to Izzy's. Who's doing the most damage at the buffet: Hoffer. Maybe Mac.

Do you have a hidden talent that folks would be surprised by: I'd like to think im fairly artistic. Plus, I have a gnarly imagination.

Your Favorite Part About Playing at Linfield is: Winning.

Post Linfield aspirations: Haven't really thought that far. Safe to say I will spend a few years catching up on the beach life.

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Team, Excellence, Attitude, Class for 4 quarters: As we established above beating North Central is going to be a program effort. A challenge like this is when Linfield needs to lean on the foundations of what makes Linfield football incredibly special. Trust in your teammates that they will do their job so you can do yours. Know that the training and preparation you’ve poured into the previous months and years will act as the vehicle to get to your desired results. Be ready to handle the adversity and keep believing when things are not going the ‘Cats way. Finally, play football the right way…the Linfield way.

Limit The NCC running attack: North Central is a great balanced offense. They run primary out of the shotgun and give you a ton of formational looks and personal groups you have to deal with. NCC is not solely a running team as they can throw the ball effectively and hit the big pass play. However, if Linfield’s defense is going to limit NCC, the ‘Cats have to slow down the Cardinal running attack. NCC has a number of guys that will carry the ball but their guy is Nick Kukuc (1,259 yards, 114 avg a game, 8.2 a carry, and 15 TDs). Also, don’t sleep on Jordan Tassio who carries the ball for 4.8 yards a carry and has 14 TDs on the year.

Balanced Offensive Attack: It’s paramount for the ‘Cats offense to attack the Cardinal with a balanced attack in order to move the ball and put some points on the board. That will be MUCH easier said than done. NCC’s defense has performed on the same level as their offense in only allowing 15.3 points per game (96.1 rush allowed/170.9 passing allowed). The NCC defense is big, skilled, and has a number of playmakers in the lineup. Linfield must be able get the running game going to help open up the ‘Cats downfield passing attack.

Limit big pass plays: While much as been made of the North Central run game you cannot overlook the fact they have the ability to hit the big pass play over the top with a host of receivers and backs hauling in Spencer Stanek passes (167 out of 262 attempts (63.7% completion rate) and 20 TDs to only 6 picks). The ‘Cats have to keep everything in front.

Offensive Line meets the challenge: North Central is featuring a 4-3 front that is physical and big up the middle (both starting DTs are 6’3” and over 270 lbs). The ‘Cats O-Line have a big challenge and are going to be key to Linfield’s success on Saturday. Moving people off the ball and keeping defenders off of Mickey are going to go a long way into if the ‘Cats offense is going to have the chance to get it done on the scoreboard.

Win on Special Teams: NCC has a strong kicking game and good returners. Special teams is an area Linfield has been excellent in over the past two season and Saturday might need to be the ‘Cats best effort yet in the 3rd phase of the game.

Mickey Inns and the receivers have a day: Mick and the receivers are facing a talented secondary in NCC but Linfield has the horses to have a productive Saturday. The offense is going to go as far as Inns and the Wildcat receivers take it. Big day for the passing attack.

Limit mistakes/ball security: Slot this in the obvious category. The ‘Cats need to play smart football and not make bad decisions with not only the football but in controllable penalties. Good technique and Good decision making.


‘Cats by 3. This is a monster game for both programs. If you couldn’t tell, I think North Central is a heck of a club but I know that this Linfield team has the goods to make it happen in the ‘Catdome and bring home the win. Linfield is going to have to be sharp from the moment they step between the lines until the game has expired. If the ‘Cats can limit the rushing attack and make some plays in the passing game the opportunity for the win will be there in the 4th quarter. I’m a believer and know this group of ‘Cats will get it done.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Let's go Cats! Every down counts in this game. Time to show the doubters what Mickey and the boys can do. Many, many people writing the Cats off this week but this fan will be down on the sidelines supporting the best team in the nation! I'll be looking for the offense to be steady. I'll be looking for NO turnovers. I'll be looking for the defense to show this team NO ONE runs on Linfield.
Go Cats!