Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Game 7 Preview: Linfield (6-0) at George Fox University (3-4)

Let's do it!
On the road again! Linfield will be making their shortest road trip of the year as the ‘Cats roll over to Newberg to play the George Fox University Bruins.  Weather wise, it’s looking a little rough in the forecast but I’m still expecting a great atmosphere between these two fan bases filling up Fox’s tin box stadium (I’m only kidding, it’s a lovely set up) to see these two Yamhill country teams battle it out.

George Fox is doing some nice things in year 3 of their reboot of football (Yes, only their second year of playing but they had a zero year where they practiced, recruited, installed, etc, etc.) .  Probably their biggest jump from last year as a program is their offensive production.  Fox was downright terrible on offense last year as they were only able to put up around 10 points per game.  This year has been a leap forward with Fox now sitting as the 2nd highest scoring team in the NWC (33.1 PPG) and 3rd in total yards per game (420.6).  Leading the charge for the Bruins is Sophomore QB Grant Schroeder who has been the trigger man for GFU.  Schroeder has a good command of the offense and a group of solid targets to throw to.  The Fox QB has thrown for 1,852 yards, on 133 of 230 passing attempts (57.8%) and 15 TDs to 5 picks.

Accompanying Schroeder is senior running back, John Shaffer.  Linfield fans should be familiar with John as he spent his first two years at Linfield before transferring down the road.  Shaffer is the current NWC leading rusher with 91.3 yards per game (639 yards on 151 attempts for 4.2 YPC) and he’s punched it in 6 times.  Shaffer is also a critical part of the GFU passing game as the RB is the 3rd leading receiver for Fox with 25 catches for 202 yards and 3 TDs.  Shaffer is a hardnosed running back and should offer a stiff challenge for the Linfield defensive front.

While the GFU offense has been a highlight for the program, the Bruin defense has been a rough spot.  The Fox defense is giving up 33.1 points per game and is dead last in yards allowed with 470.0 yards yielded per game.  It’s curious to see Fox take a leap on offense but actually be worse than last year defensively when Fox gave up 432.1 per game during the 2014 season.  Where Fox has really been failing is the pass defense, which has been brutal in allowing 331.6 yards per game.   That’s not very good.

Overall, Fox has developed some good front line talent on offense.  The Bruins did have to insert their starters back into the Lewis & Clark game because the Pios were making such a big run on the Bruin reserves. That should tell you where GFU stands in terms of depth, and that’s understandable considering they’re still a young program. 

I’m sure the GFU coaches and players are itching to get Linfield at their place where Fox is 2-0 on the year. Linfield should be used to being “the game” for every NWC opponent and this week is no different.  Everything on paper says Linfield should be the heavy favorite but the ‘Cats still have to prove it.  Each week, the NWC opposition wants to be the one to take down Linfield or even make it close.  I’m fully expecting GFU to throw everything they can at Linfield and I’m interested to see how the ‘Cats respond.   Is this Linfield team going to be ready to roll or are the ‘Cats going to get caught looking down the road?

Get To Know A Wildcat
Photo courtesy of Brad Thompson: View Brad's 2015 Linfield Football photos here.
#3 Eric Igbinoba, Receiver, Junior
Hometown: Cheney, Washington, High School: Cheney High

Favorite place to eat in Mac: Los Molcajetes

Favorite Movie:  Interstellar

Favorite Music: R&B

Favorite TV show:  House

Favorite Book:  Heart over Height

Class I Most Look Forward to: Intermediate Account

iPhone or Android: Android

CPU Homepage:  Google

Personal Mantra:  Take it day by day and be grateful for every breath

Social Media of choice: Instagram

Car or Truck:  Car

Xbox, PS3, or Wii: Xbox

What first inspired you to play football: My older brothers. They played and I have always looked up to them and wanted to do similar things.

Favorite part of playing at Linfield: The Friendships that I have made with other guys on the team and the sense of family here.

Smartest Linfield receiver:  Brian Balsiger, the guy has a huge brain.

Post Linfield aspirations: Become a CPA and get a dog.

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

T.E.A.C. – Often imitated, never duplicated.  Here’s another weekend for this program to put its core principles into action. Team, Excellence, Attitude, Class.  Those four words are not just something to put out there for show but are all the things this program is about.  Fox is going to be ready and willing to show Linfield how they’ve improved over the past year so go show them what one of the very best in the country looks like.

Limit the GFU rushing attack:  Fox is more than willing to put the ball in the air but Fox loves to hammer away with Shaffer in the running game.  If Linfield can bottle up the Bruin rushing attack, it’s going to limit the effectiveness of their play action game and make life that much harder to put up points against the ‘Cats.

Attack with balance:  It might be very tempting to chuck it all over the yard this weekend but this Linfield offense is at its best when Linfield comes at you with a balanced offense.   There is a reason why Linfield lead the NWC in yards per completion with 17.8 per catch, and that’s because teams have to respect to honor the run fake which allows helps free up the Wildcat receivers to get loose.

DB up:  George Fox has a very capable group of receives that have shown they are dependable and can go up and make plays on the ball. I thought the ‘Cats defensive backs played lights out last weekend and they’re going to get another opportunity to show why I think they’re one of the best groups in the country.

Special teams go to work:  I’m looking for a great day out of the Wildcats special teams on coverage and with returns.  If this group can get it going early and often, it’s going to set the table of the ‘Cats offensive and defensive units to eat.

Battle of 3rd downs:  A very telling sign of how this game goes is going to be on 3rd down.  You have two of the best NWC teams on 3rd down this weekend with Linfield converting on 53% and George Fox moving the chains 47% of the time.  We saw it last weekend, if you don’t convert on 3rd down, Linfield will bury you in a hurry.

Win in the Red Zone:  Another really good match-up here is the Red Zone with Fox converting 83% of their trips for points (70% of these TDs) and Linfield converting 87% if the time (76% of those TDs) But what’s wild is that the ‘Cats defense has only allowed teams to enter the Red Zone 7 times this season and 2 of those were drives started in the Red Zone by turnover. 


‘Cats by 24. I know, I know.  Linfield has been beating teams by 50+ per game this year so don’t roll your eyes at my 24 point spread.  Obviously, we know if Linfield goes to Fox and plays at a high level the chances of Linfield putting it on thick are great and I’m not the type of prognosticator to start calling for 50 point victories.  Fox is going to do their best to make life tough on Linfield but if the ‘Cats play sharp, it should be the ‘Cats day.


Chris said...

Love your site my man! Can't wait to see this game! Go Cats!

Chris said...

Love your site my man! Can't wait to see this game! Go Cats!