Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2014 Game 9 preview: Linfield (7-1) vs Pacific (6-2)

For all the marbles.
This is awesome. Linfield and Pacific are headed for a regular season showdown at the ‘Catdome this Saturday at 1pm for the right to represent the Northwest Conference in the 2014 Division III playoffs. The ‘Cats are also trying to extend their current run of NWC titles to six, while Pacific will be gunning for their first outright conference title since reinstating the program just 5 short years ago This should be everything that you want in a college football game; two fine football teams, physical in nature, skilled, well coached, and an outcome that could swing in either direction. A lot is on the line for both programs and it should be a riveting college football atmosphere at Maxwell Field.

You have to be impressed with what Pacific has built in what is ultimately a short period of time in Forest Grove. The Pacific administration committed to bring back football and has done an admirable job with hiring the right guy in Keith Buckley who looks to be building something that will last. Coming off a great year four in 2013, there was a feeling that Pacific would slip with the departure of over 30 something seniors. For the first two games of the year that looked to be the case as Pacific started off the season at 0-2 but since that time Pacific has done nothing to improve and grow into an NWC title holder. The Boxers are a top 25 team, even if the current polls don’t reflect that. Most voters can’t get past the loss against Dubuque early in the season but that hasn’t stopped Pacific from knocking off two Top 25 teams in PLU and Willamette. IMO, this is the best football team that Linfield has seen all season long and our ‘Cats better be ready to go against this Boxer team.

For Linfield, the ‘Cats have something to prove this weekend against Pacific. Don’t listen to the national pundits that will mindlessly scratch Linfield in as the winner this weekend. There are many questions for the ‘Cats to answer against the Boxers. The past two contest that the ‘Cats have played against an efficient ball control team, Linfield has struggled mightily. In the last game of the 2013 season, Linfield had to rally late against the Boxers who were marvelous all day in controlling the clock and game. Willamette must have watched that game about 100 times during the offseason because the Bearcats pretty much copied that game plan and used it to land the NWC upset of the decade in knocking off the ‘Cats two weeks ago.  So our ‘Cats are going to have to prove it this Saturday that they can overcome and work past a highly efficient and talented football team in Pacific. There isn’t a doubt that the ‘Cats have the goods to get it done and it will be up to the players on Linfield’s roster to earn it this Saturday.

Get To Know A Wildcat

#17 Levi Altringer, Tight End, Senior
Hometown: Meridian, Idaho, High School: Rocky Mountain High School

Favorite place to eat in Mac: Community Plate

Favorite Movie: Good Will Hunting (Robin Williams is great.)

Favorite Music: Lights & Motion

Favorite TV show: Don't have a TV right now but I sporadically get a good laugh out of The Office.

Favorite Book: Les Miserables. A classic story in which love and kindness overcome great evil and suffering.

Class I Most Look Forward to: Religious Thinkers

iPhone or Android: I have an iPhone.

CPU Homepage: When I open my browser it says "Welcome to Firefox".

Personal Mantra: Love God and love others.

Social Media of choice: If I had to choose one to be on I would choose Instagram.

Car or Truck
: Car

Xbox, PS3, or Wii: Xbox

What first inspired you to play football: My dad taught me to play the game and I have enjoyed it ever since.

Favorite Coach Smith Saying: "If you don't think I'm right, you're wrong." Usually comes after a lecture about discipline.

Favorite part of playing at Linfield: The values, tradition, my coaches, and my teammates.

Post Linfield aspirations: I'm a bit undecided right now...

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

60 minutes of Linfield Football: Like I wrote about last week, the mindset has to be at that right tension. Not too loose, not too tight but in that right spot where it’s not about screaming and yelling but just about being ready to battle for four quarters. This game promises to have ups and downs and it’s vital to handle each accordingly. Team, Excellence, Attitude, Class.

3rd down: This will be a critical down of football on Saturday. Both Linfield and Pacific have been fantastic on 3rd down this season (Pacific .509 (8th in the nation), Linfield .481 (25th in the nation)) and who performs better on 3rd down will go a long way in determining this ballgame. Pacific is going to try to own the ball and clock so it’s imperative that the ‘Cats defense comes up with stops to give the ‘Cats offense more shots to make hay.

Efficient Wildcat Offense: The Linfield offense cannot afford to get going later in this ballgame. Possessions are going to come at a premium so an aggressive and balanced Linfield attack needs to be the mindset from the first time the offense touches the ball.  That efficiency is going to start with the ‘Cats offensive line and how they execute against an aggressive and physical Pacific defensive front.

Limiting the Boxer Run Game: Pacific’s passing game has been wildly effective this season (Shaw’s passing stats are 146 for 208 (70.2%), 1,776 yards, 16 TDs against 4 picks) but it all starts for the Boxers’ offense with the running game. The Boxers feature a trio of hard nosed and explosive running backs (Ladiges, Pimental, and Barretto) that have combined for 1,084 yards, 4.7 yards per carry, and 14 rushing TDs on the year. The Boxer offensive line has grown tremendously throughout the season and get off the ball hard. The ‘Cats defensive front has to come to play and get off blocks in order to try to limit the Pacific run game.

Special Teams have a great day: Field position is going to be main ingredient for victory this weekend and Pacific features one of the best special teams units in the NWC. Kick returner Bronson Barretto and punt returner Brandon Harms are dynamic return men that can swing the field for Pacific. The ‘Cats have to be fantastic in breaking down and limiting the Pacific return game.

Not giving up the big play: Like I’ve stated a few times above, Pacific is a ball control offense but that doesn’t mean the Boxers won’t take their shots. I fully expect deep balls going up on the ‘Cats off play-action and other possible gadget plays.  The ‘Cats DBs have a tough job in playing for the chains against an excellent group of Boxer Senior receivers but not falling asleep on the deep ball.

Good decision making/take care of the ball: Turnovers could play a huge role in the outcome of Satuday’s game.  Pacific’s Warner Shaw hasn’t thrown a pick since their game 2 loss in Iowa and the Boxers have only lost 6 fumbles on the year. In the ‘Cats only loss of the season, Linfield turned it over four times to the Bearcats.  The ‘Cats have to be smart with the football and not give it away.


‘Cats by 3. Linfield is going to have to be at their best to knock Pacific off. The Boxers are well coached, talented, confident, and will bring a style the ‘Cats have struggled in dealing with the past two seasons. If the ‘Cats come out sharp and execute for four quarters, I love our ‘Cats chances on wining a share of the NWC title and moving on to the playoffs. All hands on deck!


DS said...

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