Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2014 Game 7 Preview: Linfield (6-0) vs Willamette (4-2)

Wildcats vs Bearcats in the month of November? Oh yeah!
It’s onto the critical second half of the Northwest Conference season for your Linfield Wildcats as the Willamette Bearcats come to the ‘Catdome to open up the month of November. With only three games left in the regular season, it’s imperative that Linfield is on top of their game. Any misstep and Linfield could find themselves losing out a potential home playoff games or right out of the playoffs themselves. You might say, “Oh, Linfield would be fine if they dropped one game and don’t win the NWC crown.”. Don't believe that for a second. Those of us that have been living out in the Division III outpost here in the Pacific Northwest know that you NEVER put your post-season hopes in the hands of a committee. Linfield’s best and only real bet is to leave no doubt with regards to if Linfield is worthy of the Northwest Conference title and a post-season berth.

Standing in the way of those goals are the Willamette Bearcats. The Bearcats are having another fine 2014 season in posting up a 4-2 overall record but their NWC title hopes took a major blow last weekend when Willamette’s NWC record evened up at 2-2 with a tough loss against PLU. As disappointing as that loss is for Willamette there is still much to play for as a Bearcat.  Right now, Willamette is a program that’s trying to maintain their place in the top rungs of the conference. Willamette has compiled a 19-6 record since 2012 and have a number of high quality football players in their program. This game against Linfield is a critical moment for Willamette to reaffirm to their players, recruits, and the NWC, that Willamette will compete with the best and plan on doing so yearly.

For Linfield, this will be a “where’s your mind at” game for me. The ‘Cats are coming off a de facto bye-week against L&C and Linfield’s starters haven’t seen a full game of action in close to a month now. I know the Linfield staff has been preaching to the team about continuing to build, improve, and push the limits but saying that and doing that are two different things. You guys know that I think this could be a very special Linfield team but I’m looking to see this weekend if the ‘Cats are locked into that vision or if their eyes somewhere else. I can’t wait to find out.

Get To Know A Wildcat

#11 Erick Douglas III, Receiver, Sophomore
Hometown: Clackamas, OR. High School: Clackamas High

Place to eat in Mac: Tequila Grill

Favorite Movie: Fury and Seven Pounds

Favorite Music: R&B/Soul and hip hop/rap

Favorite TV show: Fresh Prince of Bel Air and The Boondocks

Favorite Book: The Alchemist

Class I Look Forward to Most: Philosophy

iPhone or Android: iPhone gang

CPU Homepage: Apple

Personal Mantra: “Don’t ever let somebody tell you… You can’t do something. You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.” -Will Smith from the Pursuit of Happyness

Social Media of Choice: Twitter

Car or Truck: Sports Car

Xbox, PS3, or Wii: Xbox One

What first inspired you to play football: I watched a special on Jerry Rice with my Dad when I was in grade school, I quit soccer real fast.

Favorite Coach Smith Saying: You have to "Dougie" it.

Favorite part of playing at Linfield: Playing with Pride and continuing a winning tradition, along with playing with my best friends.

Post Linfield Aspirations: Corporate Banker

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Offensive Fast Start: The ‘Cats offense started fast at Redlands and PLU, then had a little bit of sputtering against Fox and Whitworth before kicking it into high gear. Some of that is teams throwing new looks at Linfield before the ‘Cats adjust and blow their doors off.  I think it will bode well for the ‘Cats if Linfield’s offense can get rolling out of the gates to put the pressure on a Willamette defense that has been gashed at times in 2014.

Limit Dylan Jones and the Bearcat ground game:  The Bearcat running back is a stud (1044 yards, 174 avg., 24 carries a game, 12 rush TDs) and he’s the guy the Willamette offense has to have up and running for Willamette to hang with Linfield.  One of Jones best assets is once he gets into the second level of a defense is his speed and ability to make defensive backs look bad on tackle attempts. It’s imperative for Linfield’s defense front to box Jones in and limit his productivity.

Attack Willamette’s defensive front: Willamette defense is their traditional 3-4 front so Linfield’s offensive line and backs have to be the aggressors and push the Bearcats at the point of attack in the rushing game.  The Bearcats are only allowing 3.7 rush yards per game (isn’t too bad at all) and I’m sure Willamette is still burning over the rushing performance by Linfield in 2013 when the ‘Cats rushed for 451 yards.

Pressure, Pressure, Pressure: Willamette hasn’t been the most dynamic passing team this season (starting QB, Trent Spallas is 66 out of 124 (53.2 percent) for 812 yards and 7 TD’s to 6 interceptions) so don’t look for Willamette to show a complex passing scheme. I’m expecting a lot of short routes, quick play-action routes, and look for the occasional deep ball.  Even if Willamette decides not to hang on the ball for very long, Linfield’s defensive front have to be aggressive in getting heat on Spallas.

Take care of the football: The Bearcats have done a decent job in turning over teams.  The Bearcat defense has 8 picks on the season and recovered 7 fumbles.  Linfield 1st offensive unit has been solid all season long in ball security and decision making and that trend needs to continue this weekend.

Not allowing the big play:  Willamette’s offense thrives on the big play and you can understand that when you have a running back like Jones. I think if Linfield can force Willamette to put together drives to score points, the Wildcats will be incredibly effective against the Bearcat offense. Make ‘em earn it.


‘Cats by 14. Willamette has taken it in the teeth a couple of times this season and are coming off a tough loss up at PLU.  The Bearcats are a prideful program and I fully expect them to come into the ‘Catdome with intentions of giving Linfield all they can handle. However, the ‘Cats defense has been great against the run this season and if they can limit the Bearcat rush, Linfield will control this game. Go ‘Cats!

1 comment:

DS said...

I'll pay $12.95 for this one.