Monday, October 7, 2013

‘Cats Win! Linfield tap dances on PLU in 29-0 victory.

Jeremy Girod (#48) came through with a huge 4th down sack early in the 3rd quarter.
(Photo Courtesy of Brad Thompson: View Brad's 2013 Linfield Football photos here. )

That was a tremendous win for the ‘Cats.  With the division III spotlight in the Pacific Northwest, your Linfield Wildcats took center stage and put together a statement win over Pacific Lutheran.  Linfield’s defense was dominate over the contest in limiting PLU to only 10 first downs and 216 total offensive yards.  That was a heck of an effort against a more than capable PLU offense.  On the offensive end, the ‘Cats had their hands full against a stingy Lute defense but the ‘Cats stuck to their guns (ground game) and slowly wore the Lutes down with a huge late 3rd quarter drive that wound up opening up the game with a 22 point 4th quarter.  It was a great day to be a Wildcat as the homecoming crowd was treated to a focused and hard-nosed brand of Linfield football. 

For PLU, I’m sure they didn’t expect to run into that kind of buzz saw but they found out what three other teams have experience so far in 2013, Linfield is no joke.  I think the 2013 PLU team is a heck of a squad and should recover quickly as they face the some big NWC tests down the road.  If both Linfield and PLU win out, we could see a possible rematch, and I’m sure PLU will want another crack at the ‘Cats.  Until then, there’s no more talk about just needing a few more minutes to beat Linfield as the ‘Cats left no doubt who’s the class of the NWC.

Linfield is headed into the bye week at the perfect time.  Being 4-0 was the goal at this point of the season but the ‘Cats can’t sit back and expect the rest of the NWC to roll over.  The NWC has always been one of the top conferences in Division III but has recently moved the NWC to its highest ranking yet as the 3rd best conference in the country.  Linfield still has 3 good road tests coming up.  Last time the ‘Cats went to Spokane (2011), Linfield had to comeback from a double digit deficit to squeeze out a tight win, a monster roadie at Willamette, and face what will be an emotionally charged and senior packed Pacific team to close the year.  The ‘Cats have their work cut out but this team has the tools in place to take care of business but two weeks can’t go by fast enough.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good

Program victory:  Lots of talk post-game from the team with regards to how well they prepared this past week and much of the credit going to the scout team offense and defense in giving the starting units a great look during the week.  As someone who played scout team when I was first in the program, I can remember how challenging it can be but the impact that group makes shows up on game day. 

Shutting out a very good offensive unit:  That effort by the Linfield defense was supreme.  PLU has a number of weapons and a great scheme to put points on the board but Linfield took all of that away, and when PLU was knocking at the doorstep, the ‘Cats were able to turn them away.    Coach Vaughan and his staff put together a great game plan that the players executed beautifully.  I can’t say enough about the defenses play.

Offense getting it done:  PLU’s defense is tough as nails but our offense keep plugging away and I think they started to wear out the Lutes as the game when deep into that 3rd quarter.  The ‘Cats didn’t panic when the run was limited, but instead, Linfield stuck to their game plan and kept banging away.  You could really see it in that critical drive that started at 5:24 left in the 3rd quarter when Linfield drove 75 yards in 14 plays.  11 of those plays were rushes that chewed up the remains of the quarter that allowed Linfield to open the floodgates during the final quarter.

Pressure:  There were some grumblings from some Linfield folks about the defenses sack total headed into the 4th game of the season, especially considering the clinic the ‘Cats have been putting on over the past 3 years in how to get to the passer.  Much of that has been the results of teams trying to attack Linfield with quick passing games and not allowing their quarter backs to drop back deep very often.  PLU was the 1st team to consistently go with the longer developing passing plays and the results were 4 sacks, multiple hurries, and moving PLU’s QB off the spot, and getting him to rush a number of throws.  Saturday is the reason why opposition OC’s don’t want to sit in the pocket against Linfield.

Special Teams:  Again, the Linfield special teams units have grown tremendously over the 1st four games of the year.  Kickoff coverage was once again solid as PLU’s average starting point was their 26 yard line.  Jordan Walker boomed his 3 punts for an average of 43.7 yards, and Josh Repp with a 38 yard field goal to wrap up the scoring on the day.   

Josh Yoder:  I know that QB’s get too much credit in victory and I typically don’t like to individually list players in this section but Josh Yoder deserves it.  Yoder had to wait 3 seasons behind two tremendous Linfield quarterbacks (Boehme 2010, Inns 2011-12) and Josh has done nothing but excel as our starting quarterback.  His play was critical yesterday and I though he rose to the challenge and was a big difference maker in Saturday’s outcome.

Linfield’s Defensive Backfield:  These guys balled out of their backside against PLU.  After getting shredded almost single handled in last year’s playoff game by Kyle Warner, the ‘Cats secondary was everywhere on Saturday.  I think I saw them handing out program guides before the game, playing with the pep band after TDs, and selling popcorn during the 3rd quarter.  They blanketed the ‘Catdome and came up with 4 huge interceptions, 4 pass breakups, and took away the big play from PLU.

Bonus Good:

The game day experience:  Saturday was incredible.  I pulled up to the Keck Parking Lot at 10:30 and it was hard to find a spot.  I haven’t seen the tailgate area that busy with activity, that early in the day, in a long time.  Linfield fans always tailgate hard but it was at a different level.  The weather was perfect, the whole campus was buzzing, and the ‘Catdome was rocking.  Saturday in the ‘Catdome was everything small college football should be about.

The Bad

Nothing I’m going to harp on.  Coach Smith talked after the game on how they know this team can play a more complete football game and they’ll see it when film is broken down.  The offense killed some promising drives with a few penalties, a PAT was blocked, and we missed a short field goal, but there was nothing that I would consider a sore thumb after the game wrapped up.

The Ugly

Don’t online smack talk Linfield: I’m not calling out PLU specifically because I respect their program, their history, and this current PLU team.  However, don’t use the Catdome hashtag to run some weak smack talk if you’re a current player.  Oshkosh has talked some Catdome junk on twitter but they earned that right by beating Linfield so you can’t get upset.  However, for the rest of the players in the Pacific Northwest....just mind your own business.  I’m saying this from a place of love.  Really, I am.

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