Thursday, November 1, 2012

Game 8 Preview: Linfield (7-0) at Puget Sound (0-7)

Hack, Hack, Chop, Chop.  Not so fast my friend.
The ‘Cats are on the road for the final time during the 2012 regular season as Linfield hits I-5 (COUNTRY COUSIN!!!!!) and speeds up to Tacoma to scrap in the mud and muck against the Loggers from Puget Sound. The ‘Cats are coming off a great win in surging in the 2nd half to hammer Willamette 45-10, while the Loggers put up some fight on their homecoming before falling 41-14 against their local rival, Pacific Lutheran. The Loggers are on a giant losing skid as UPS has dropped 17 straight games and have not tasted victory since Oct 30th, 2010 when UPS was able to edge out 1st year Pacific. The rebuild job for head coach Jeff Thomas has been monumental as the Loggers are trying to shake off the stigma of being an NWC cellar dweller for almost the past 15 seasons. It’s been a hard road to hoe for UPS but it’s not been for a lack of effort and I expect UPS to come into Saturday looking at the ‘Cats as their chance to use any crumbs of success against Linfield as a springboard in recruiting and for their returners as they close out 2012.

For the ‘Cats, this is another opportunity to improve as a team and show they can do what you would expect a highly ranked team should in a match-up like this…and that’s dominate from the opening whistle. As superior as Linfield has been over the years vs Puget Sound, there have been some surprising close games that make you scratch your head. The most recent example was in 2009 when an 8-0 Linfield came SCREAMING into their game against a winless UPS team. It looked like a total mismatch, but that’s why you play the game. The Loggers came out on fire and took, what would be a final four Linfield team, deep into the contest (41-36 early in the 4th) before the ‘Cats were finally able to put away Puget Sound. The 2004 National Title team had a stinker of a game up at UPS and put up their lowest total of the regular season against another so-so Logger team (35-16).  2008 was another season where a bad Logger team took the ‘Cats deep in the game where Linfield had to starve off a number of late drives to pull out the 32-24 win in Tacoma. You see where I’m going here.

On paper this looks like a giant mismatch. It is. But you still have to be ready to play Linfield football or anybody can take it from you on any given Saturday. This weekend isn’t any different, as the Loggers are not going to roll over just because the ‘Cats are coming to town. History has proven that’s not the case. No, this is a chance for Linfield to show they’re a mature team that lives their “Respect All, Fear None” 2012 mantra and give the Loggers the respect they deserve by coming out on the field and playing with their hair on fire. Anything less than the ‘Cats best effort on Saturday would be a failure.

Get To Know A Wildcat

#24 Tyler Robitaille, Linebacker, Junior

Favorite Place to Eat: Chan's combo number 7 with Mothers Chicken.

Favorite Music: Anything really, Dubstep for Pregame

Favorite Movie: Spaceballs, always gets me laughing (WC note: EXCELLENT choice)

Favortie TV Show: Dexter or Gold Rush

Favorite Pro Team: St Louis Rams, still the best show on turf

Class I look forward to: Business Law with Denise Farag

Mac or PC: PC

CPU Homepage: Google

What Do I use more: Smart phone for sure, have to keep up to date on my news (USA Today) and Fantasy Football

Twitter OR Facebook: Facebook

Car or Truck: Drive a black Nissan Frontier a.ka. Black Beauty

Xbox, PS3, WII: Xbox 360 when we have time to play, basically a very expensive DVD player during football season.

Favorite Coach Rombach Saying: Attack Downhill with Nastiness!

Most Athletic LB: Hard to say, but Louis Colasurdo, man has the quickest feet this side of the Mississippi

Lineback with Best Halloween Costume: Linebackers are too thick to fit in any costumes...Offensive guys looked good in their fairy wings and tiaras though.

Hidden TALENTS: I have been known to do work in the kitchen, plus i can McGyver just about anything

Favorite Part of Linfield: Playing with my best friends and enjoying my time here. Making big plays in big games, then celebrating with the Roomates back at the house (Big Blue) with all their families.

Post Linfield Aspirations: I would love nothing more than to stick around Linfeild and help coach.

Wildat11’s Keys To Victory:

Extinguish any and all hopes early: Having a great start is imperative in games like this. The last thing you want to do when you play teams that may not have as much talent or depth is to provide hope. Linfield needs to come out and establish dominance in all three phases early and often.

Pound that rock: Weather is calling for it to be off and on with the rain on Saturday and that sod at Baker Stadium has taken on a lot of water over the past month. Don’t expect the fastest surface in the world this weekend. With that in mind, the ‘Cats need to get the running game dialed up and attack Puget Sound and get those safeties closer to that line of scrimmage. If the ‘Cats can rush the ball with authority it will spell big trouble for the Logger defense.

Taking care of the football: It’s been a wet fall in the Pacific Northwest (one of the more wet football seasons that I can remember up to this point), and like I mentioned above, the opportunities for putting the ball on the ground increases in these conditions. One of the ways Linfield could allow UPS to stay in the game is turning it over. The ‘Cats offense has to put a premium on making sure the ball stays in our hands.

Dial up the rush defense: Puget Sound’s offense is known to throw the ball often but as of late the Loggers are trying to establish a more balanced attack with mixing in a fullback into their offensive sets and trying to spark their running game. Linfield needs to continue to dominate the running attacks in the Northwest Conference. If Linfield’s defense locks down the run game it allows the ‘Cats to be tremendously aggressive in other defensive aspects.

Take away Kniffin: The UPS receiver is the guy for the Loggers. The ‘Cats have taken him away the previous two years and need to do it again once more. The Loggers have a few other solid receivers but Kniffin is the guy they want to get the ball to.

Continue to Pressure: Linfield is leading Division III in sacks (once again) and that pace continuing will be key in this match-up. With the Logger offense giving up 22 sacks through 7 games, the opportunities are going to be there for the ‘Cats to make some plays in the UPS backfield.

Special Teams and Field Position: The ‘Cats coverage teams have had another great year and that trends needs to continue. Field position in a bad surface is critical and the deeper Linfield can pin UPS the better the chance for Linfield to strike quickly when the ball comes back to the ‘Cats.

Hit the big play when the opportunity provides itself: If the ground game is going, the Loggers are going to have no choice but to get more help towards the LOS and that means the ‘Cats are going to have some chances to hit some plays over the top. Let’s make the most of them and have some big strikes.


‘Cats by what they want. This is 100% on the shoulders of the players. They can come out like a bunch of wildmen on a college football Saturday (how many of those do you really get?) and play crisp and fast Linfield football, or they can have their eyes down the road and allow UPS to hang around and give them something to hang their hat on. If Linfield comes out to play, I’m expecting a big margin of victory. If not, I still expect a ‘Cats victory but it will taste bad as Linfield heads into the final week of the 1st season. Let’s Roll!


doc said...

No injuries!

Chris said...

Lets go Cats! This alumn and fan wants to see playoff games at home. Keep the hammer down. I haven't been this optimistic about our national title hopes since I graduated in 2005!...but it is one game at a time, one quarter at a time, one play at a time.