Monday, October 5, 2015

‘Cats Win!!! Linfield rolls Lewis & Clark down the Oregon Trail in a 73-0 victory.

#7 Tavon Willis reached out for his 4th touchdown of the season vs the Pios
Photo courtesy from Brad Thompson: View Brad's photos here
It was a beautiful day for football up in Portland as your Linfield Wildcats opened up Northwest Conference play with a decisive victory over the new look Lewis and Clark Pioneers.  Linfield’s defense was once again fantastic throughout the day and once the ‘Cats offense started clicking the points piled up in a hurry. 

What I wanted to see this past Saturday was a team that was excited to play football and not mail it in because they were facing a rebuilding program and that’s what I saw before and during the game. It can be tough to get yourself mentally ready for that challenge when the team you’re facing isn’t at your level but it spoke volumes about the ‘Cats that they were locked in and ready to go. Yeah, the beginning of the game wasn’t perfect for the offense and we’ll talk about that below but once the damn broke it was a tidal wave of ‘Cats reaching the end zone and living in the Pioneer backfield.

At the end of the day, Linfield accomplished what they set to and that was to turn in a sharp performance and get in as many ‘Cats as possible for some serious varsity minutes.   Mission accomplished on both of those fronts.

Now let’s be real, the ‘Cats have played and dispatched three not very good football teams to open up the season.  Linfield has done what great teams should do to lesser opposition and that’s roll them right out the door but all that changes this weekend with a huge NWC showdown with Pacific.  The Boxers make the return trip back to Linfield sitting at 3-1 and coming off their most complete game of the season in crushing PLU 34-7.  This is a very tough Pacific team.  They have a veteran group on offense, a poised duel threat QB, hard charging RBs, a tough defense, and a trio of play making receivers that have put up some big numbers.  You know Pacific has done a lot of reflection of last year’s 59-0 loss to Linfield and I’m sure have spent a lot of extra time in perpetration on how they’re going to attack the ‘Cats this weekend.  It’s a dangerous opponent for Linfield and the ‘Cats better be ready to roll.
A photo posted by catdomealumni (@catdomealumni) on

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good

Defensive Domination: The numbers speak for themselves: 135 yards of offense allowed (97 yards of passing, and 38 yards of rushing) over 65 offensive plays.  The ‘Cats defense piled up 13 tackles for loss and All-American defensive end Alex Hoff feasted with 5 TFL’s, a sack, a fumble recovery, and caused general chaos in a little over a half of action.

#55 Alex Hoff dominated the Pios defensive front in the 1st half of play.
Photo courtesy from Brad Thompson: View Brad's photos here
Passing Attack: The ‘Cats quarterbacks went 23 of 31 for 392 yards (12.6 yards per pass attempt) and looked sharp.  Sam Riddle tossed four TD’s in only one half of action as our QB went 12 of 17 for 174 yards and looks to be developing deeper chemistry with his receiver corps.   

Young ‘Cats getting extended time: This is what I was really hoping to see on Saturday as Linfield was able to get deeper in the roster and let a number of other units get extended reps during live varsity action.  It was fun to get a glimpse at some of the other talent on the roster as Linfield continues to be deep with players that can produce and have a number of up and coming prospects in the freshman class.

1st unit penalties down:  The ‘Cats 1st team was only penalized twice during the first half of play and that is some big improvement from the first two games of the year.  This has to continue to be a major point of emphasis for this team as discipline is going to be a major factor is if this Linfield team will be able to fully realize their potential.

Preserving the shutout: Redlands was able to escape the shutout two weeks ago with a late TD off a Linfield turnover deep in their own territory and that looked like it might have been the case again as the Pios blocked a Linfield punt on the Wildcat’s 13 yard line with 1:37 left in the game. Facing a 2nd and Goal from the 4, the ‘Cats brought the house and Linebacker Caden Wakefield forced a fumble that was scooped up by freshman defensive end Deven Illingworth who scooted 85 yards for the game’s final score.  It was a great little moment on multiple fronts and great to see Linfield blank another team.

Team cohesion: This is something that you won’t see on a stat sheet but you can feel it before the game, during the game, and in the post-game wrap.  This group is starting to truly carve out their own unique identity.  That might have been the biggest win of the day in my eyes is not that fact Linfield beat someone by 73 points but you can see and feel this group coming together as a single unit and that bodes well for the remainder of the season.

The Bad

Slow offensive start/short yardage: Yeah, it’s nitpicking but ‘Cats offense took a few series to get the ball rolling again and made little mistakes that negated what should have resulted in earlier touchdowns.  I’m still waiting for a faster and cleaner start from this offense and it needs to happen soon as the level of competition is going to increase significantly this weekend vs Pacific.

The Ugly

Nothing: Game was relatively free of injury, lots of ‘Cats clocked in well-deserved reps and produced results, and Linfield started the conference season off at 1-0.  On top of that, the weather for the game was probably the nicest I can remember for a Linfield road game at L&C.  It was a great day to be a Wildcat!

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