Monday, November 11, 2013

‘Cats Win!!! Linfield blows away the Loggers in a 79-3 pasting.

#19 Connor Varnell and Linfield grabbed a piece of another NWC title this weekend.
(Photo Courtesy of Brad Thompson: View Brad's 2013 Linfield Football photos here. )

That was a classic case of Linfield taking a team out behind the woodshed and applying a proper beating.  It might have been the worst possible scenario for Puget Sound in playing against a team of Linfield’s caliber when they turned the ball over on their first two offensive plays of the game.   If you were a fan that when to go get a soda at the start of the game, by the time you made it back to your seat it was 14-0 Linfield.   Puget Sound tried to go with the dink and dunk passing game to control the ball but that style of offense only works for so long, especially against a defense like the ‘Cats possess. 

The ‘Cats put on a clinic in that first half in building a 58-3 lead as Linfield’s defense once again scored (safety) during one of the most exciting segments of the game as Linfield Freshman Spencer Payne broke through on a 71 yard touchdown return of the Puget Sound’s free kick.  The Wildcat offense was as explosive as ever as the 'Cats hit on a number of early big pass plays and carved up UPS with the read zone look.  What other teams are finding out is that when Linfield starts subbing in their 2nd and 3rd units, the expected drop in talent isn’t much of a drop, if any, at all.  Linfield has built a roster that can play the game of football and it’s been a pleasure to watch this team display that passion and ability in all three phases of the game.   

It was Senior Day at Linfield but I’m not going to get into all the stats and accolades this GREAT senior class has earned over the past 4 years (a few of them 5 years)  and that’s because this group and team still has a lot of season left.  There’s no reason to start their career summaries at this time because they’re still writing their own Linfield history.

With the win over Puget Sound, coupled with the Pacific loss to Willamette, the ‘Cats have officially captured the Pool A automatic playoff bid to the 2013 NCAA playoffs.  That’s outstanding and it’s always one of the goals of this program each season.  Being out in the far west the last thing you ever want to do if leave your playoff fate in the hands of committee members.  The only way to truly make sure you get into the playoffs is leave no doubt and earn that Pool A bid. 

Linfield still has work to be done this regular season if they want to win the NWC crown outright for the 5th consecutive year.  Waiting for Linfield in Forest Grove this Saturday will be a tough and motivated Pacific Boxer team.  The Boxers hope for a piece of the NWC title and the playoffs were lost on Saturday as Willamette was able to put together two touchdowns in the 4th quarter to rally past Pacific 21 -17.  With the loss, the Boxers are now 7-2 on the season and 3-2 in NWC play.  Pacific is loaded with experience, a legitimately tough defense, and balanced offense with explosive playmakers.  We’ll talk more about them on Wednesday but Linfield is going to get challenged this upcoming Saturday.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good:

Linfield playing up to their potential and not down to the opponent:  I have to be honest that I was a little concerned about Linfield not being at their best coming into the UPS game.  The ‘Cats just came off a smoking of Willamette, it was senior day, and I didn’t know if our guys would be distracted and not as focused on the task at hand.  However, this team’s maturity can’t be questioned as they put out another grade A level effort on the field and on the sideline as well. 

72 yards lost rushing for Puget Sound/8 Sacks/17 Tackles For Loss:  Linfield’s defense was outstanding against the Loggers as UPS was held to a net negative rushing total at the end of the game (-5 yards rushing).  That negative number came from the ‘Cats piling up 8 sacks and 17 tackles for loss.  Linfield's physicality at the point of attack was the difference.

Offensive Playmaking:   The ‘Cats made a number of outstanding plays on the ball in that first half.  We had multiple receivers compete for the football and came anyway with some great individual efforts that resulted in touchdowns or big gains.  The ‘Cats also feasted in the run game racking up 289 rushing yards and seeing two long touchdown runs  from Matt Yarbrough (69 yard scramble) and Spencer Payne (70 yards).  It was a fun day for the big play.

Special Teams:  The Wildcat Special Teams units put in work this past weekend.  The Wildcat returners had a number of flashes for brilliance as Linfield popped a 71 yard free kick for touchdown, had a 44 yard kick return, and punt returns of 25 and 49 yards by Freshmen Erick Douglas III and Kennedy Johnson.  Cover teams had another great day and PAT/Field Goal blocking looks to be playoff ready.

5 takeaways:  The ‘Cats are now a +17 with the turnover ratio and that’s a tremendous sign of good things to come.  Linfield forced 5 turnovers against Puget Sound (1 pick, 4 fumble recoveries) and only lost the ball once (fumble).  Linfield QB’s, backs and  receivers have done a great all season in protecting the football that turnover ratio proves it out.

84 ‘Cats getting time:  I loved seeing this stat after the game.  There are a number of ‘Cats that were able to get well deserved time on the field and I couldn’t have been happier for the young ‘Cats that have been working hard their first year and a number of older players in the program that have committed and sacrificed for the TEAC pillars of Linfield football. 

The Sad:

Putting in a “sad” is a first for me on the blog but it’s something to be legitimately sad about.  Linfield’s long time public address announcer, Linfield Hall of Fame Member, and legendary retired Linfield communications Professor, Craig Singletary, called his last regular season game for the ‘Cats.  Craig is retiring at the age of 82 of calling the action at Maxwell Field and is going to be sorely missed.  Craig is truly a master of his craft and is blessed with one of the best voices you’ll ever hear.  I’ve been to a number of sporting events at all levels and there isn’t one public address announcer that’s on Craig’s level.  I’m not joking.  Linfield has had one of the very best PAA’s in all of sports for a very long time.

A cool informational nugget that I found out in speaking to Craig is that he has either been on the radio calling the ‘Cats game action or working as the ‘Catdome public address announcer for every single season of the streak. 58 years.  That is incredible that Craig has been able to watch college football history develop in front of his eyes for the past 58 years.  And we Linfield fans have been blessed to have Craig 's voice be the soundtrack to Linfield’s winning ways.  I'm sad to see you step away but so thankful for all that you've done for Linfield College.  Thank you, Craig!

Craig Singletary is the best PAA in the business. We've been lucky to have him in the 'Catdome.
(Photo Courtesy of Brad Thompson: View Brad's 2013 Linfield Football photos here. )

The Ugly:

I did want to rail on the all purple uniforms once again (I’ve never been in love with them) but the players adding black accessories (spats, gloves, bands, etc) is much better than the white extras used in years past.    The players love breaking out the all purple uniforms so I can live with it.  Call it getting soft in my older age but the all purple didn’t look too bad on Saturday.  Now excuse me as I have to go yell at some kids for being on my front yard.
catdomealumni's 2013 vs Puget Sound album on Photobucket

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