|#8 Spencer Payne was dynamic in the passing game for the 'Cats|
Photo Courtesy from Brad Thompson: View Brad's Linfield Football photos here
The bad news and the good news right off the top for the ‘Cats. The bad news - Linfield’s effort this past Saturday had a lot of rough spots. The good news – even with a number of things to clean up, the ‘Cats still put on a 38 point licking against what I think is a pretty solid Chapman team. That bodes well for what the season may hold for this very talented Linfield football team.
In talking to Linfield Defensive Coordinator, Jackson Vaughan, towards the end of the game, he said jokingly that it’s almost a yearly tradition for the opposition to take the first possession of the year and march it right down the field. It’s a combination of nerves, new scheme, cohesion, etc., and that was the case this past Saturday as Chapman marched right down the field in 5 plays and punched in a short TD to take a 7-0 lead. It was a little cold water in the face but the momentum quickly turned as Linfield capitalized on a muffed punt and never looked back.
For Chapman, I think that team has a good chance of repeating in the SCIAC. They have some good dudes that can ball and are a very sound team that should be a pain in the backside to deal with if you’re a team in SoCal but they just don’t have the horses to hang with the ‘Cats at this time. Linfield just has wave after wave of guys that come at you in all phases of the game and Chapman had the displeasure of experiencing that first hand on a very hot day in McMinnville.
This Linfield team isn’t nearly a finished product. I think there are areas of improvement all over the field for the ‘Cats but you can see the potential to put together what might be a very dangerous football team. The ‘Cats have some critical early season match-ups so the time to get everybody on the same page is minimal. There has to be significant growth from game 1 to game 2 and we’ll find out soon enough just how good this group wants to be.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
All three phases scoring touchdowns – You don’t see that every often. Not only did the Linfield offense do their thing, but the ‘Cats special teams chipped in with two big touchdowns and a great individual effort by Linfield linebacker Jason Farlow with a spectacular 26-yard punt block for TD, and then Kennedy Johnson’s electric 77-yard punt return for TD. The ‘Cats defense got in on the act as Linfield Senior Rover Keanu Yamamoto rolled the dice on a Chapman bubble screen and swiftly picked it off for a 23 yard pick six (his 2nd of his career). It was great to see each phase of the ‘Cats game making such big impacts on the outcome of the contest.
|Linebacker #25 Jason Farlow with a clutch 26-yard punt block and return for TD that lit up the 'Catdome|
Photo Courtesy of Brad Thompson: View Brad's Linfield Football Photos here
Linfield has numerous weapons to choose from– The ‘Cats have a lot of guys that are dangerous with the ball in their hand. Not to get too much into this but Linfield has a great mix of steady guys that will get you that 1st down yardage to some guys that can flat out hit the home run. Once the offense irons out a few things, I think the big play is going to be a common theme in Linfield games this season.
Pass defense – Chapman QB Andrew Chavez came out gunning and torched Linfield’s secondary on the 1st drive of the game to the tune of 4 out of 4 passes and 74 passing yards. But once Linfield talked it out on the sideline, the ‘Cats secondary locked Chavez and his receivers down to the tune of 11 of 28 passes for only 101 yards.
Fantastic Special Teams – The ‘Cats special teams was great on Saturday. All three of our kickers were outstanding (McClean with 3 punts that avg 40.3 yards and 3 within the 20 yard line, Cayman Conley with 9 kickoffs and 6 were for touchback, and Michael Metter with a 41 yard field and perfect in PATs), our coverage was great, a critical fumble recovery early by Franklin Lime, the huge punt block/TD, great returns, and then the 77-yard punt return TD by Kennedy Johnson. This group is going to be a weapon for Linfield this season.
Red Zone Offense – Linfield went 4 out of 5 in the end zone and the one miss was when the ‘Cats took a knee on Chapman’s 10 to kill the clock to end the game. I really liked the versatility of the ‘Cats offense the red zone and they should continue to be effective moving forward in the season.
Solid Defensive Effort – After the initial drive, the ‘Cats defense settled down and forced the Panther to seven 3-and-outs and eight drives of three plays or less. Along with that, Linfield limited Chapman to only 273 yards of total offense (75 yards of that with the game put away in the 4th quarter), and held Chapman to 4 of 16 on 3rd down. I’m sure the defensive staff has identified a number of areas of improvement but it was a very good effort out the gates considering Linfield had a number of new faces in the lineup.
Penalties – Bad. Just bad. Linfield was flagged 9 times for 80 yards on Saturday and that needs to be cleaned up. The ‘Cats strive to play a controlled aggression style of football, so sometimes Linfield will get flagged, but Saturday was too much laundry on the field for anybody’s liking.
Inconsistent Execution – You can see the potential of this team. It’s bubbling all over the place but there is a lot of work to do if Linfield is going to be a serious contender for that National Championship. I’ll give most the issues that popped up this weekend to first game wrinkles and issues but Linfield staff and players know they have to clock in and put in the work if they’re going to reach the potential this roster has.
Flopping Punter – Come on man….you can’t do this on the a football field. This is the second time that I can remember a player from the SCIAC breaking what should be a clear unwritten rule in football…NO FLOPPING. During the 1st quarter of action, the Chapman Punter was slightly grazed in the upper body by a Franklin Lime on a block attempt and this punter when down like his leg snapped in two and then proceed to roll around the turf like Ric Flair had slapped on the figure four leg lock. The best/worst part was his celebration after he saw the flags tossed. Thankfully it was only called as a running into the kicker and not roughing. I mean WWE wrestlers don’t sell fake injuries as well as this guy did. Soccer players would have said “Too much bro” if they saw that act. Brutal and don’t think this ugly will be topped this season.