Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2012 Playoffs Round One Preview: Linfield (9-0) vs Pacific Lutheran (7-2)

Playoffs at the 'Catdome?  You bet.
And away we go. Headed into Saturday there were three scenarios that I was playing out in my head about what the NCAA selection committee was going to do. 1) Send PLU to Linfield, 2) Send CLU to Linfield, or 3) Send PLU to CLU and somebody else to Linfield. Knowing the NCAA and the fact they love to save money when it comes to division III football playoffs my money was on what played out; an NWC rematch against Pacific Lutheran. Love it and let’s do it.

The rematch is between, by far, the top two teams in the Northwest Conference. Coming into the season PLU was a young, untested, but talented team that has grown up over the season. The 2012 PLU launching pad was their first three games where they took CLU deep before dropping a close one, hammering a then top 25 Redlands team on the road, and jumping all over Linfield before the ‘Cats methodically pulled even and pulled out a late game victory. At that point, the Lutes knew they belonged with the nation’s best and over the past 6 games the results speak for themselves. PLU has banged out 6 wins in-a-row by an average score of 38-18 and have climbed into the top 25 over the past two weeks (currently #20). A lot of the pub goes to the PLU big play offense but it has been their defense that’s the difference maker this season. The Lutes have picked off 19 passes on the season (over 2 a game) and helped PLU hold a +12 turnover ratio on the season. Their 3-4 defense is packed full of speed and high energy players than have made play after play during the season to put the Lutes into this position. The Lutes offense has some fine playmakers but don’t sleep on PLU’s defense.

Any of you that have been following the ‘Cats know the story by now. Linfield battled through one of the toughest schedules in the country this season, lost their two best players early (Josh Hill, Tyler Steele), and have discovered tremendous depth, and an explosiveness that’s knocked out one challenger after the next. The ‘Cats have had a number of slow starts this season but once they get moving and rolling there are only a handful of teams in all of Division III that can hang with this group. This Linfield team has shown that their only weakness that’s been consistent is the penalties. It’s not the roster, or the inability to rush the passer, or throw the ball, but rather, the ‘Cats own mistakes. When Linfield limits those pains, it’s damn scary how well this team can play. So that’s my big question headed into Saturday. The ‘Cats haven’t had a stiff challenger in a few weeks while PLU has been in playoff mode for the past 6 games. Are the ‘Cats going to be focused and ready to meet a peaking PLU head-on? We’re going to find out in a few short days and I can’t wait.

Get to Know a Wildcat

#31 Brandon Funk, Corner, Junior

Favorite Place in Mac to Eat: GVB

Favorite Movie: Hard to pick just one so top three would have to be 1.starship troopers 2. any movie with will ferrell 3. The Sandlot

Favorite Music: Country, Hip-Hop, and Bangarang

Favorite TV Show: Big Bang Theory/How I Met Your Mother

Favorite Pro Football team: Thaaaaa Raidaaaaasss *Chris Berman Voice*

Class I Most Look Forward to: Exercise Physiology Lab

Mac or PC: PC

Cpu Homepage: Google

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

Twitter or Facebook: Lately, Twitter

Car or Truck: Car

Xbox, PS3, or WII: Gamecast

Favorite Coach Haze Saying: Just a scoshe

All the Linfield DB's go to Izzy's. Who's doing the most damage at the buffet: You wouldn't be able to tell by his staggering stature, but for sure Nards

Which DB is the best basketball player: If you don't count my spectacular mid range jumper and dime dropping abilities then for sure Mike Link aka the missing link aka china ankles aka stinky linky

Do you have a hidden talent that folks would be surprised by: Probably my uncanny ability to play the recorder and I'd like to think I'm pretty good at impersonations

Your Favorite Part About Playing at Linfield is: Being a part of a winning tradition and more than that building the relationships that I have and will carry with me for the rest of my life

Post Linfield aspirations: Go to Physical Therapy School and get a doctorate in PT and hopefully be able to coach somewhere preferably back home at my old high school

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

60 Full Minutes of Linfield Football: It can’t be a quarter, it can’t be a half. The ‘Cats need to come into this football game ready to go from the opening kickoff all the way to the final ticks of the clock. Be ready to handle adverse circumstances and work through those. The focus needs to be sharp from opening moments.

Effective Balanced Offensive Attack: Linfield’s offense has to be effective both in the passing and rushing attack. The ‘Cats cannot afford for PLU to take one of these aspects away during the game. PLU is a high motor, fast defense that has been playing great football in the latter stages of the season. Linfield needs to keep them honest and off balanced.

Stop the PLU Run Game: PLU is rushing the football at a decent clip this season (138.6 rush yards per game) and that running attack is critical for PLU’s offense. The more effective they can run the ball, the more chances PLU can hit big plays in the passing game. Linfield needs to take away the rush and punish the Lutes ball handlers every chance they can get.

Limit Big Plays: This is a must for the ‘Cats to get the win on Saturday. The Lutes have a number of offensive playmakers that can haul in big strikes off the arm of Dalton Richey. If PLU can drive the ball down the field against Linfield by moving the chains than I’ll tip my cap to the Lutes. Make them earn it.

Pin-Point Passing: In the first match-up PLU picked off Linfield twice early which directly resulted in two PLU TD’s. As stated earlier, PLU has made a number of interceptions this season. With that said, Linfield showed they can move the ball in the air vs PLU and had some huge strikes taken off the board with ill-timed penalties. Mickey Inns and the ‘Cats WR need to have a big day at the ‘Catdome this Saturday.

Have to bring pressure: Nothing really to say here but if Linfield can pressure and get to Dalton Richey the chances of Linfield winning increase dramatically. Have a day.

Compete for the football: When that football is up in the air the ‘Cats have to get after it. I’m talking both to both the offense and defense. There are going to be big moments in this game that come down to who’s going to make a play on the football. Get after it.

Win on Special Teams: Linfield’s coverage has been outstanding this season and that trend has to continue. All aspects of special teams can leave their mark in this game. Let’s split uprights, swarm to the ball, and bust open some returns.

Limit controllable mistakes: This comes down to good judgment and good technique. If Linfield can limit penalties and take care of the football, the ‘Cats are going to be damn hard to beat.


‘Cats by 7. PLU is a hell of a team. They have proved they deserve to be in this playoff and have all the tools to compete and beat Linfield if the ‘Cats don’t execute on the field. This is a challenge to beat a team twice in one season but I love the desire and drive of the 'Cats. I believe when it gets down to is this Wildcat football team will fight through the adversity and come out on the other end with the victory and move onto the next round. Should be a great football game. Go ‘Cats!


doc said...

Of what you speaketh....

September 29th vs. PLU

Fumbles: Number Lost
2 1 Penalties: Number Yards
11 92

BTW...your blogospehre has the toughest robot security of anywhere I go. I always take 2-3 times to get it right.

Wildcat 11 said...

Sorry about the robot security. I turned it off for a day a few weeks ago and was just peppered with spam. I'll turn it off for the playoffs to make it a little easier.

Chris said...

Please Cats, play smart. I have ALL the faith in the world that this team is THE best in the nation when they limit penalties to hustle plays and don't turn the ball over.
Let's play like it is the last play of the season EVERY down from the start. Can't wait for Saturday! Go Cats!

BTW, ditto Doc. That robot dude is tough! :)

Anonymous said...

Go Cats!!