|It's great to be back in the 'Catdome!!!|
After the 2013 season, both Cal Lutheran and Hardin-Simmons ended their series with Linfield and moved on (understandable). Case Western, who Linfield played in Ohio in 2013, would not give Linfield a return game at the ‘Catdome in 2014, so that left Linfield with two new Non-Conference games to fill and an out of balanced schedule. Many Division III teams don’t want to play Linfield and or have closer more affordable options. Excuse my language, but it’s hard as hell to find D3 games for Linfield and we’re lucky that Linfield Athletic Director Scott Carnahan does an incredible job in making that happen.
Redlands was the first team to come to a 2-year agreement with Linfield but the Bulldogs were starting off the 2014 season at Mary Hardin-Baylor so there is no way they were going to go back-to-back at UMHB and then Linfield. Fine, Linfield wants the game so the ‘Cats will go to SoCal to open up the season. That left the second game to fill and nobody was taking. It was coming to the point that it looked like Linfield would be headed down to NAIA Menlo but Chapman came around and said they’re ready to take on the ‘Cats. The problem for Chapman is at that point they only had three home games on the season and had to have a fourth home game. That’s 100% understandable. So while Linfield didn’t want to go back-to-back SoCal, Chapman is a quality D3 game and the only way it would work if we played in Orange in 2014. So that’s how we came to the spot where Linfield is playing their home opener on Oct. 11th.
So with that said, let’s get to our football team and where they’re at and where they’re going. You had to be excited as a Linfield Wildcat after this past weekend’s performance. Linfield looks like a complete team with no visible weakness. Linfield can run the ball, throw the ball, defend the run, defend the pass, and kick the tar out of the football. With that said this team still isn’t a finished product and has a number of players that are still growing into their roles and scheme. Make no mistake that this Linfield Wildcat football team has skill, depth, speed, a physical nature, and an unmistakable cohesion. At this point, the pieces are all there and it’s up to the players in terms of either being satisfied for what they have or continue to push every day to get better and realize that full potential as a team. All indications are this is a hard working group of young men so I’m betting they’re not going to stop pushing their limits.
This week the ‘Cats are opening up their year with 1st year playing/2nd year in existence, George Fox. When Fox initially announced they were starting their football program they made all indications that they would be playing in 2013 but changed course late in the game and moved the date out to 2014. Fox wanted more time to install their staff, fundraise, etc. While that’s all and good it left everyone else in the NWC scrambling to fill Fox’s slot in 2013 and a number of programs had to shell out the extra cash to find games. But at this point, that’s water under the bridge. Fox is currently 0-3 in their 1st season and 0-1 in NWC play after dropping to Willamette last week.
Fox is not a 1st year program like Pacific was in 2010. The Boxers 2010 roster and 2-deep was composed of almost all first year true freshmen. The Boxers took their lumps with all those freshmen and grew them up over the next four years. With Fox having a “zero” year in 2013 they were able to bring in a number of players and spend last season installing their systems and having another year to mature in the weight room and then supplement that with a large number of transfers in their 2014 fall camp. In fact, the starting defense for Fox only has 2 first year freshman lining up while the rest of their players are in their 2nd to 4th year out of high school. Fox does feature mostly first year freshman on their offensive line but all their offensive skill players have been out of high school for 2 to 4 years. What I’m getting at is this is a very different approach to a first year playing football by Fox than what Pacific did 5 seasons ago.
George Fox has some nice pieces and players and the Bruins wants to play a tough brand of football. I’m sure the opportunity they have this weekend is exciting and they’re going to try their best to make a splash against Linfield.
Get To Know A Wildcat
#15 Keanu Yamamoto, Rover, Junior
Hometown: Waikola, Hawaii, High School: Hawaii Prep
Favorite place to in Mac: Tequila Grill Taco Stand.
Favorite Movie: Tough one. "Old Yeller" or "Draft Day"
Favorite Music: Hawaiian/Reggae
Favorite TV show: The League
Favorite Book: Angels and Demons, David and Goliath
Class I Most Look Forward to: Sports Philosophy
Iphone or Android: iPhone
CPU Homepage: Bing.com
Personal Mantra: "Get tackled for -3, fall forward for 5" & Joshua:1:9
Social Media of choice: Instagram
Car or Truck: Mini Van (highschool car)
Xbox, PS3, or Wii: Xbox
What first inspired you to play football: Watching Randy Moss and playing catch with family.
Favorite Coach Smith Saying: "Alright" after a nice play in 1 on 1s.
Favorite part of the practice week at Linfield: Wednesday's, when the music comes on during practice. There's something about music.
Post Linfield aspirations: Move to Cali, find a steady job and play an excessive amount of beach volleyball.
Wildcat11’s keys to victory:
Continue to Strive for improvement: After playing three tough road games and finding a lot of success it might be easy to relax and enjoy the fact you’re playing at home. But taking it easy should be the furthest thing from your mind. Get ready to play four quarters of Linfield football and put the hammer down on the gas pedal. There will be a lot of fans getting their first live look at this 2014 Linfield team so show them what you’ve got.
Balanced Aggressive Offense: The Bruins rank 2nd to last in the NWC in points allowed (38.3), last in yards allowed per game (486.0), and last in rushing yards allowed per game (231.7). I want to see the Wildcat attack this Bruin defense from the jump and continue to pressure them with Linfield’s up-tempo balanced offense.
Contain the Fox rushing attack: George Fox’s offense will give you a number of looks from a stack I formation all the way back to a spread. GFU features junior transfer running back John Shaffer. He's averaging 25 carries a game for 107 YPG (4.2 per carry). Linfield fans know he's a hard runner and the guy GFU wants to feed the ball. Linfield needs to make it a priority to contain, keep leverage on the cut backs lanes, and close.
Taking care of the football: The easiest way to give over matched opponent life is by turning the ball over. For the most part, Linfield does a good job in this department but have had at least one turnover in their first 3 games. I’d love to see a zero turnover affair by the ‘Cats.
Limit big pass plays and contain the quarterback: Fox QB Grant Schroeder has some nice playmaking ability from the pocket and he has the ability to break contain and use his legs. He’s a pretty accurate passer and has good pocket awareness. Linfield needs to make sure they don’t fall asleep on the play action and lose a Fox receiver for a big play. Along with that, there are going to be opportunities to put Schroeder down for sacks but he can be elusive. The ‘Cats defensive front need continue be good athletes and getting a wrap on the GFU QB.
Have Fun: Play Linfield football and have a blast while doing it. You only get some many chances to play a football game so make sure you’re making the most of it.
‘Cats by a lot. Last week a number of players were giving me a major ration of it for only picking Linfield to beat PLU by 3 last week. I tend to keep it conservative because other teams read this page (thank you, by the way) so I will continue to keep my winning number low for the most part. This Saturday, if Linfield plays to their potential and ability, there is no reason not to expect the ‘Cats to win big over their Yamhill County neighbor.