|Linfield walked tall among the Pines.|
The win moves Linfield to 5-0 on the season and more importantly 2-0 in Northwest Conference play. The only undefeated team left in the NWC besides Linfield is Willamette. That showdown is a few weeks down the road but first Linfield has a date with Lewis & Clark and Willamette has a big game with PLU on Saturday.
In leaving the Pine Bowl on Saturday I felt satisfied with the outcome. A few text messages hit my phone from ‘Cat fans saying the team looked flat after building that early lead. I’ll agree with that but you also have to tip your cap to Whitworth for not breaking and continuing to play hard. I think it was good for this team to feel someone making a run at them and finding out how the team is going to handle it. The great news is that Linfield was able to re-apply their will to finish out the game strong. Winning at the Pine Bowl isn’t always easy so winning by a 34 point margin in a place Linfield has had their struggles is a game to feel good about.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Fast Start: I called for a fast start and that’s just what Linfield delivered. Linfield’s defense suffocated Whitworth early and the ‘Cats offense scored on their first four possessions. The fast start was then capped off by a fumble recovery for Touchdown by Kel Poomaihealani that moved the lead to 31-0. It was a great start by the ‘Cats.
Rush Defense: 36 net yards rushing on the day. Whitworth rushed for 87 gross yards but loss 51 yards on the day. But that doesn’t tell how dominate the rush defense actually was. Whitworth running backs rushed 17 times for a net of 23 yards on the day (1.3 yards per rush). Most of the rush yards were picked up by QB scrambles. The Rats zone running game was decimated by the ‘Cats all day long.
Special Teams had a day: Linfield’s special teams were fantastic and probably had their best game of the season. That tells you something about the work these units have been putting in as the kickoff coverage was brilliant all game long, and both Jorden Walker and Josh Repp, had great games kicking for the ‘Cats. The kickoff coverage has grown greatly from the beginning of the season.
Number of ‘Cats contribution on offense: Linfield didn’t need a single person to help carry the offensive load as Linfield was able to utilize a number of players in the offense. I continue to be impressed by the diversity of players in this offense that can make plays on the ball or with it in their hands. It has to be hard to DC’s around the conference to try to key in one a single player when so many can hurt you.
3rd down defense: I thought the ‘Cats 3rd down defense was solid on the day. They only allowed 6 of 19 3rd down conversions (31.5%) and put constant pressure on Whitworth to make the perfect play in order to convert.
Middle of the game letdown: Going up 31-0 that early was either great or it might have been the worst thing to happen on Saturday. Linfield was so dominate early I think that team had a moment of easing back off the intensity and focus that helped build that early lead. You pair that with the fact that Whitworth kept playing hard and next thing you know air starts getting back in the other sideline. Once that happens, it can be difficult to get the game back under control. I hope it was a good reminder that everyone in this conference is going to give Linfield their best and they don’t want to be embarrassed by the ‘Cats. No matter what the situation, Linfield needs to keep their foot on the gas.
Friends tipping Whitworth’s hand on twitter: Whitworth starting Quarterback Bryan Perterson was injured early against Willamette the week prior, and his status was questionable headed into this past weekend against the ‘Cats. Well, it was questionable because that’s what Whitworth was telling people all week long that it was going to be a game time decision on Peterson. However, it looked like Whitworth made their call on the starting QB early in the week....or at least according to a friend of Rat QB Ian Kolste's (who started on Saturday) twitter feed.
That was tweeted last Tuesday. I don’t know if Linfield’s staff even saw this, or if it even mattered, but that’s not what you would like to see when trying to play the "questionable status" game.