Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Game 2 Preview: Linfield (1-0) at Redlands (0-1)

Now those are some good looking mascots!
There is no rest for Linfield this weekend as YOUR ‘Cats will once again be boarding a plane for Southern California to hook up with another tough adversary in the University of Redlands Bulldogs.  Coming off a hard fought 21-14 come from behind victory over the Chapman Panthers last week, the ‘Cats have to be hard at work in looking at a laundry list of items to correct and strengthen against the defending SCIAC champions. 

Linfield and Redlands renew their series as the teams entered a 2-year agreement this off-season as the Bulldogs will be making the return trip up to the ‘Catdome in 2015.  These programs first squared off in Linfield’s 1st official game as Division III member in 1998 with a thrilling 24-23 seesaw affair that saw the ‘Cats escape with a 4th quarter victory.  After 1998, the teams saw each other four more times (1999, 2002, and twice in 2003 (playoffs)) and the ‘Cats have been able to get the better of Dawgs in each match-up.  However, that past has no impact on this Saturday as both of these teams are focused on their present progress.

The ‘Cats obviously have much to improve upon from last week.  I think all Wildcat fans are looking for some more consistent offensive play and I expect for that to start happening moving forward after some key personnel questions were answered last week.  The ‘Cats also had a number of silly mistakes and gave up too many big run plays for the staff’s liking.  However, with even the flaws you could see it during the game that this team has the opportunity to be special. The talent is obvious and the celiing is sky high for this group.  It’s going to be a matter of how hard these ‘Cats are willing to work for it and then execute under the game time pressure.  I’m excited to see what happens next.

If you’re looking at Redlands, please do me a favor and 100% ignore their outcome this past Saturday at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.  This was Redlands 3rd time playing UMHB in their last 11 games and 4th time playing The Cru since 2011.  The Bulldogs are not the first or the last talented team to not have it go their way in Belton, Texas.   You just have to forget that and know that Redlands is a true West Coast contender.  Over the past four seasons, Redlands have not only battled UMHB but faced North Central twice and Pacific Lutheran multiple times in non-conference play.  I respect the heck out of that type of aggressive scheduling and the long term benefits that will come with measuring yourself against some of the best in Division III.  For the ‘Cats that means Redlands isn’t going to be intimidated with what Linfield is bringing to the table.  Redlands has already had a healthy dose of the size, speed, physicality, and tempo that elite programs consistently put out on the field.  The Bulldogs are going to be ready to give the ‘Cats a fight for their lives on Saturday night.

Get To Know A Wildcat

#22 Kyle Belcher, Junior, Corner
Hometown: El Dorado Hills, CA., High School: Oak Ridge

Favorite place to in Mac: Mikey's Pizzeria

Favorite Movie: The Dark Knight

Music of choice: Rap

Favorite TV show: Shark Tank

Favorite Book: Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10

Class I Most Look Forward to: Economics

iPhone or Android: iPhone

CPU Homepage: ESPN

Personal Mantra: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13

Social Media of choice: Twitter

Car or Truck: Car

Xbox, PS3, or Wii: Xbox

What first inspired you to play football: Watching the pros and envying the aggressive game play

Favorite Coach Smith Saying: "Do common things in an uncommon manner"

Favorite part of playing at Linfield: Creating unbreakable bonds and friendships between the guys as we all work and grind towards a common goal year in and year out

Post Linfield aspirations: Become an actuary or CFO

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Four Quarters of Wildcat Football: This is going to be another big challenge and the ‘Cats can’t wait this weekend till the 2nd half to get their complete game in gear.  I’m not saying Linfield has to be perfect but I would like to see Linfield show some game one to game two growth on a number of fronts.  You can see the potential on this team but the ‘Cats have to start realizing that potential at some point.

Finding Offensive Consistency: Yeah, it took the ‘Cats a large chunk of the Chapman game to start finding some footing on offense.  Linfield is going to face another quick 3 man front this weekend (Redlands base defense is a 3-3-5) so the ‘Cats have to have a better week in consistently moving the ball against another quick and athletic team.

Limit the Bulldog Rushing Attack: The Bulldogs offense is a balanced attack that can explode in the passing game but their success is based off their running attack.  While Linfield was able to hold Chapman’s rush total down the Panthers were able to gash the ‘Cats for large chunks rushing at a time.  Redlands returns their top three running backs (Tanquary, Brown, Appleton) and their QB Kevin Russell are all playmakers  so trying to limit the rush will be a huge component on Saturday.

Close off big plays: The Bulldogs have a number of explosive offensive weapons and I’m expecting Redlands to challenge the ‘Cats young secondary in taking some shots down the field. Also, if any running plays do break, the 'Cats have to be able to contain the damage as they did against Chapman.

More effective rushing attack:  The improvement of the Linfield running game is going to be critical to not only the success on Saturday night but for the long term prospects of this 2014 season.  If the ground game gets going, the ‘Cats are going to be tough for opposition defenses to get off the field.

Solid tackling:  You can make football an incredibly complex game but at its core the game is all about blocking and tackling.  The Wildcat defense has to be superb tacklers against a fleet of talented running backs and a quarterback with the ability to pull it down and make things happen with his feet.

Minimize mistakes:  Linfield can go a long ways into helping themselves by not making silly drive killing/drive extending penalties and turning it over.  Much of that I feel were some first timer nerves but there has to be a better effort against Redlands.


‘Cats +7.  This is going to be another slugfest.  Like I mentioned before, don’t even look at Redlands opening game at UMHB. Redlands and Chapman are the current top teams in the SCIAC and the Dawgs are going to be hyped to open up their home season and erase the taste of last week out of their mouths.  Linfield is going to see Redland’s best.  However, I feel the ‘Cats are going to show some offensive growth from last week and if the ‘Cats defense can clean up a few issues our ‘Cats have the goods to fight for a hard earned victory.

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