Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2014 NCAA Division III Round One Playoff Game: Linfield (8-1) vs Chapman (8-1)

Playoff football in the 'Catdome?  Yes please!
After coming off a tremendous 59-0 victory over the Pacific Boxers, your Linfield Wildcats received the right to represent the NWC in the 2014 Division III Playoffs and the honor to host a game in the 1st round. I love playoff football in the ‘Catdome and I’ve never taken these weekends for granted. You never know when you’re going to get another opportunity to host and while the thanksgiving break playoff crowds are small, the passion of the core Linfield fans attending these first round games is fierce.  After Linfield wrapped up Pacific everyone and their cousin knew that it was going to be Chapman in the first round.  The ‘Cats barely escaped Orange, California back in September as Linfield had to mount a 2nd half comeback to overcome a very talented Chapman squad 21-14. I’m fully expecting another closely contested and hard found game in McMinnville this weekend. 

The 2014 Chapman Panthers might be the best team the SCIAC has produced since the 2004 Occidental Tigers who advanced to that year’s quarterfinals of the playoffs. So don’t assume and make the mistake that just because Linfield’s offense has shown significant growth since the season opener that this game is in the bag for Linfield. The assuming and dismissing is what lead to an unconceivable loss to Willamette in week 7 and Chapman ain’t Willamette. Chapman is a damn good football team who feels like they match up with Linfield’s speed and athletic ability.  A flight up to the PNW isn’t going to shake Chapman as this is their 2nd time up in this area in 2014 as the Panthers when to Spokane and smacked Whitworth before heading into SCIAC play and rolling over their conference schedule.  Chapman has stated that they’re ready to show the division III nation what Southern California football is all about and knocking off Linfield in the ‘Catdome would be a heck of an introduction.

Obviously this has been an unthinkable week for the Linfield College community and this football program. The death of Parker Moore has shook everyone associated with Linfield and this community is deeply grieving Pakrer being ripped from our lives.  Preparing for a football game seems like a trivial matter compared to the gravity of all of this, but at the same time, Parker’s teammates and closest friends are getting the opportunity to be together in the face of this tragedy, grieve together,  and pay tribute to their fallen friend. I know the community and staff has been terrific in keeping these young men together and the staff has been working so hard to prepare them for Saturday. Who knows what Saturday will hold for the Wildcats but I have a feeling this group is going to respond with a great effort in the ‘Catdome.  No matter what the final results will hold, I’ve never been more proud to be a Linfield Wildcat. I truly love and respect what this College and Football program is all about…..Family.

Get To Know A Wildcat

#62 Eric Pitassi, Offensive Guard, Junior
Hometown: West Linn, Or. High School: West Linn High School

Favorite place to eat in Mac: Tequila Grill

Favorite Movie: Heavy Weights

Favorite Music: Anything

Favorite TV show: The Newsroom

Favorite Book: A Song of Ice and Fire Series (Game of Thrones) (WC11 note: as a fellow ASOIAF nerd...I approve)

Class I Most Look Forward to:
Athletic Training Professional Experience

iPhone or Android: iPhone

CPU Homepage: Google

Personal Mantra: "Be what you want, If you want to be a shoe shiner then be a shoe shiner, but you be the best shoe shiner there ever was" - My Dad

Social Media of choice: Facebook

Car or Truck: Truck

Xbox, PS3, or Wii: Xbox

What first inspired you to play football: I didn't like playing soccer, mostly because I wasn't good at it, so I switched to football and been hooked since.

Favorite Coach Smith Saying: "You don't know, what you don't know, you just don't."

Favorite part of playing at Linfield: Everyone on the team is your brother, and you would do anything for your fellow brothers. (RIP Parker, I'm honored I was able to call you my brother).

Post Linfield aspirations: Physical Therapy School

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Come Together, Play Together:  Saturday is a day for this team and these players to come together and focus solely on playing for one each other and putting out their very best effort.  They’re going to be in for a heck of a battle and it’s going to take our ‘Cats playing their best for four quarters.

Limit the Chapman Run Game: The Panther offense is built on running the football and they do it very well.  The Panther’s average 202.2 rushing yards per game and have punched in 29 rushing TDs on the season.  Linfield didn’t see much of Jeremiah McKibbins in their first game of the year but the senior RB is healthy and tearing it up for 99.1 rush yards per game (6.6 per carry) and 16 TDs. You would think the ‘Cats defense is going to see a whole lot of McKibbins this upcoming Saturday. When you mix in the explosive Cody Chapple (58.6 per game/5 TDs), Kean Stancil (38.3 rush yards per game) and QB Michael Lahey (41.2 per game/3 TDs) the Panthers seeming have unlimited options running the ball. 

Effective Linfield Rushing Attack: Linfield struggled running the football against Chapman in September (74 rushing yards/3.4 per carry) and for good reason. The Panther defense is a fast and athletic group that’s only surrendering 129.2 rushing yards per game and only gives up an impressive 19.9 points per game. This Linfield offense is at their best when they are running the ball well and we’re going to need that dynamic run offense on Saturday.

Pressure: The Chapman coaching staff is going to be very aware of the Linfield pass rush as the ‘Cats ability to sack and harass Michael Lahey was critical in Linfield’s victory. I’m sure Champan is looking at ways to better protect Lahey this time around but it’s paramount for the ‘Cats to be able to get to the Chapman QB early and often.

Making plays in the passing game:  Sam Riddle and the Linfield WR corps are going to have to make plays in the passing game this weekend. Yeah, weather conditions are not going to be ideal but that can’t be a deterrent from keeping Chapman honest and stretching the field.  Linfield is going to have to make some plays in the passing game.

Execution of assignments and playing smart:  Obviously, when you’re executing you’re going to put yourself in a position to have success and the ‘Cats are incredibly tough when each player on the field is getting their job done and playing a smart brand of football. Chapman is a sharp and smart football team as well and I’m sure they’ll have an excellent game plan for the ‘Cats.

Great Tackling: Linfield is going to have to be a fantastic tackling team against Chapman. The Panther offensive scheme is so darn tough to defend as they’ll get their RB’s and QB in open space so Linfield has to be fundamentally sound tacklers to help limit damage and not allow the Panthers to break off the big one.

Special Teams Coming To Play: The Linfield Special Teams unit has grown tremendously over the 2014 season and will need a great performance against Champan to help the ‘Cats win the field position game. We need our coverage units sharp and make sure that Linfield puts their return personnel in positions to succeed.  The special teams groups could have a major say in this game’s outcome.

Take care of that football: Not a whole lot to say here but make sure we have great security on the football and make good decisions with it.


‘Cats by 7. Chapman is a hell of a club that has a ton of belief and ability. Somehow, the ‘Cats are going find a way to have a great week of practice in order to be ready to perform on Saturday.  The Panthers are coming to win and our ‘Cats need to be ready to strap it up against this worthy opponent. In my heart, I know this group is going to rally and be ready to play Linfield football for each other and for Parker.  Go ‘Cats!


DS said...

McMikkibons has to be wrapped up. He missed all last season with a big injury but he can go all the way on any play.
Lahey likes to run as well.
The mirror a NW team I follow.
Here's where playing so many people all season will pay off. We are deeper than Chapman.
I'll take every field goal we can get.

'Bubba' said...

Spencer Payne will be the key. Keep him healthy and give him the ball,don't fumble and limit turnovers.