|A great way to open up Northwest Conference play..two of the best in Division III.|
I can’t wait till this Saturday. Your Linfield Wildcats and the Pacific Lutheran Lutes will play in the Division III game of the week this Saturday in the ‘Catdome and it has all the makings of a great game. Both Linfield and PLU came into the 2013 season with a roster full of returning talent and high expectations. So far, both teams have lived up to the hype in going perfect in the non-conference portion of their schedules. These two teams are flighting for that inside track towards the Northwest Conference Championship which includes that coveted automatic bid to the playoffs and probable home playoff game(s) implications. Both teams are considered elite squads as Linfield is ranked 2nd in the D3football.com poll and PLU is ranked 11th. I do feel PLU is undervalued at #11 but rankings at this point in the season are merely an acknowledgment of where the D3 pundits feel you belong in the overall scheme of the division and have zero impact to the outcome and performance on the field this weekend.
Linfield has been dominate to start the season in pasting Hardin-Simmons in Abilene, hammering Cal Lutheran, and then shutting out Case Western Reserve. The questions that Linfield had coming into the season have all been answered to this point but face another round of questions this weekend. This will be the ‘Cats stiffest challenge to date without question and Linfield should face real in-game adversity for the 1st time this season. This is what I’m looking forward to seeing on Saturday is how Linfield responds during those tight moments and critical stages of a contest when playing a worthy adversary. To me, this Linfield team has a level of belief and maturity that should be on display this weekend and help the ‘Cats carry the day.
For PLU, this is a giant game. The ‘Lutes felt like they took a major step forward as a program last seasons in playing Linfield tight in both the regular season and especially in the playoffs. They’ve used those losses as a launching point to the success that PLU is currently experiencing. They’re led by a true duel threat quarterback, Dalton Ritchey, who is the driving force of a PLU offense that has a big time WR playmaker in Kyle Warner, a great group of receiving targets (WR/TE’s), a speedy RB in Niko Madison, and a solid offense line. While the PLU offense gets a lot of shine the ‘Lutes defense unit has been stifling over the past two seasons. PLU’s defense is only allowing 19 points per game and that’s not by accident. The ‘Lutes are very good at all three levels of their defense and give offenses fits with their willingness to blitz from all angles and still have the ability to cover down the field. It’s a tough defense to sustain drives on and they’ve shown the ability to make critical stops at big moments.
This should be a great matchup for any fan of football. You have two of the very best teams in Division III located in the Pacific Northwest with a long history of great football games. I’m expecting these two programs to add another chapter of great football this Saturday.
Get To Know A Wildcat
#53 Jeremy Girod, Defensive Tackle, Junior
Favorite Place in Mac to Eat: Taco Stand right outside of Tequila Grill
Favorite Movie: Hard to say, but can't go wrong with Gladiator
Music: Not too big of a fan of music to be honest
Favorite TV Show: Game of Thrones without a doubt (WC11 note: Hands down my favorite as well)
Class I Most Look Forward to: FinancialTheory with Cody Agee, Robi, Trevor Gomez, Charlie Poppin, and Derek Preiestly
Mac or Pc: Mac
Netflix or standard cable: Netflix nobody likes commercials
Car or Truck: since I drive a 2005 DodgeRam, defiantly a truck
Xbox, PS3, or WII: PS3!!!!!
Favorite Coach Vaughn Saying: Budddddyyyyy!
Defensive Linemean that you would want on your debate team: Mike Maierhofer
Your Favorite Part About Playing at Linfield is: I like the fact that I have a family history with this school and program, both of my parent attended Linfield in the early 1980's.
Post Linfield aspirations? Hopefully work in the finance department of a top corporation.
Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory
-Have Fun and Play Linfield Football for 4 quarters: This is why players come to Linfield and want to play in the ‘Catdome. Maxwell field should be packed, the environment is going to be electric, and the competition is going to be outstanding. Soak it in, have your brothers’ back, and go out and let it rip for four quarters. Enjoy these types of games.
-Limit the PLU run game: PLU is about as balanced as an offensive unit can be. 99 rush attempts to 93 pass attempts through three games. The 'Lutes rack up 195.3 rushing yards per game (5.9 per rush) to 221.3 pass yards per game (7.1 per pass/12.5 per catch). PLU’s pass game is heavily based off the play-action and those big plays happen in the pass game when PLU is running the ball consistently and effectively. Linfield HAS to put a premium on bottling up the PLU rushing attack and their primary ball handlers in Richey and Madison. You’re going to see a little bit of everything with PLU's running game. If the ‘Cats defense front can limit the run game it will allow the defensive backfield the freedom to not have to crash so hard to support the run.
-Run the ball on PLU’s defense: Last year the ‘Cats struggled running the ball on PLU and that can’t be the case this weekend. I believe that Linfield has improved significantly in their rushing attack this season and that facet of the ‘Cats game is going to be a key to a Linfield victory this Saturday.
-Don’t give up big plays on defense: I want to see the ‘Cats defense not to be affair to challenge PLU but still be vigilant in allowing big plays. I believe the ‘Cats can limit the ‘Lute offensive totals if they make PLU put together sustained drives on the day and not give up the big play.
-Offense stays out of 3rd and long: Any defense lives to put offenses in 3rd and long and PLU is no different. The Linfield offense has been fantastic in 3rd down conversions so far and that trend needs to continue. One way to do that is by staying out of 3rd and long situations.
-Great Special Teams Coverage: Linfield showed improvement in their coverage last weekend. The ‘Cats will need that trend to continue vs PLU.
-Take care of the football, keep mistakes down: This goes without saying. Taking care of the football and limiting the mental mistakes will increase the chances of the Linfield victory significantly.
‘Cats by 7. If you couldn’t figure out by now I think this should be a heck of a football game in what should be a rocking ‘Catdome. If Linfield is able to executes for the duration of the contest, this is the ‘Cats game for the taking. This Linfield team has all the pieces and fortitude required to rise to a great challenge and walk away victorious. I can’t wait to watch this football game. Go ‘Cats!