Thursday, November 12, 2015

2015 Game 9 Preview: Linfield (8-0) at Pacific Lutheran (2-6)

Linfield will be looking to inflict more than a flesh wound this weekend up at PLU
With a piece of the NWC championship and the automatic playoff bid in hand, your Linfield Wildcats take their longest road trip of the season as the ‘Cats head North to square off against the Pacific Lutheran Lutes.  Yeah, it’s pretty wild that this weekend’s game is the furthest the ‘Cats have been away from Maxwell Field this season.  If you’ve been around the program at all the past few years, you know the ‘Cats have traveled all over the country during the regular season and playoffs.  I love experiencing other parts of the country but this year has been so nice in terms of having 8 consecutive games either in McMinnville or just within a short drive.  So as strange as it sounds, this will be this team’s first experience with any sort of extended travel this season.  So the ‘Cats will be loading up the bus early, hitting the Country Cousin for some breakfast, and then it’s off to Sparks Stadium to play a young Pacific Lutheran team.

Speaking of the Lutes, this has been a transitional year for PLU. After 2014, the Lutes lost a large and talented group of seniors that led the program to some of their best success since the late 90’s/early 2000’s.  After their departure, the Lutes had to hit the reboot button coming into this season and go young this year and take their lumps as they break in a lot of new faces into their 2-deep.  The result has been a season with not too many wins but not without hope. 

Right now, the Lutes only start 3 seniors total on offense and defense and are starting 11 underclassmen players.  And while the PLU offense has struggled this season to run the football and put points on the board, the Lutes defense has a big positive for the PLU program.  The Lutes defense is 3rd in the NWC in points allowed (21.1), 2nd in yards allowed per game (331.5), and second in yards allowed rushing per game (102.3).  Those are really solid numbers and the biggest reason that PLU has been in a number of close games (largest margin of defeat was 27 points against Pacific). So while this season as had to been tough to see the losses pile up, I’m sure PLU is optimistic about their immediate future once they get their offensive pieces in place. 

For our ‘Cats, while the playoffs are a clinched and a lot of people are looking down the road, this program needs to be locked into this weekend and the challenges awaiting this program.  While this program has been lights out incredible at home this season, the road has been leaving the ‘Cats with a different taste in their mouths.  Yes, the Linfield defense has allowed a grand total of 7 points in three road games this season but the ‘Cats offense has either has some slow starts or extended lulls in performance.   I’m being way too nitpicky on the offense but I would love to see the sharpness we’ve seen at home all year long come on the road with that ‘Cats as well.  Now is not the time to mail it in and go into the playoffs coasting.  No, Saturday is another opportunity for this team to improve and continue to build the momentum they’ll need to face down a laundry list of top competitors awaiting in the 2nd season.

Get To Know A Wildcat

#4 Tom Knecht, Quarterback, Senior
Hometown: Lake Oswego, Or. High School: Lakeridge

Favorite place to eat in Mac: Geraldi's with the receivers on Friday Nights

Favorite Movie: Gladiator

Favorite Music: Hip Hop/ Rap

Favorite TV show: The Office

Favorite Book: A Million Little Pieces

Class I Most Look Forward to: Ceramics

iPhone or Android: iPhone

CPU Homepage: Facebook I guess

Personal Mantra: Treat others the way you want to be treated

Social Media of choice: Instagram

Car or Truck: Fast Car

Xbox, PS3, or Wii: Xbox

What first inspired you to play football: Going to Autzen and seeing the Ducks play with my Dad

Favorite Coach Smith Saying: The word "irregardless" with any sentence

Favorite part of playing at Linfield: Game day in the 'Catdome/ locker room pre-game

Would you rather have a rushing TD or passing TD: Passing

Post Linfield aspirations: Start a career in Real Estate/ find a wife

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Come to Play:  Last regular season game of the year.  That should be plenty motivating for Linfield to let it all hang out and play to best of this rosters’ abilities.  It would be real disappointing to drive all the way to Tacoma for a half speed effort and I know we’re not going to see that.  I’m fully expecting the ‘Cats to come out and do what they’ve done all year long.

Run the Football: When the ‘Cats are running the football at will, this offense is going to put up huge numbers.  We’ve seen it time and again, when Linfield is pounding away with the rushing attack, linebackers and safeties have to respect the run and that’s when Linfield gets you over the top with Sam Riddle. The Lutes are going offer up a stiff rush defense so Linfield is going to have to earn it on the ground this Saturday.

Pressure:  The Lutes have been pretty balanced with their offensive philosophy this season but their passing game has been the strength of their offense and where the ‘Cats need to make hay defensively. I’m expecting a boat load of short passing game to help keep the ‘Cats rush off of PLU’s freshman QB but the Lutes are going to have to drop back and try to work some longer developing passing plays into the mix.  That’s when the ‘Cats defense has to get to the Lutes QB and disrupt this PLU offense.

3rd down offense: PLU’s 3rd down defense has been strong this season in only allowing teams to convert 38% of the time on the year.  For the last two games, the ‘Cats offense has sputtered on 3rd down in going a combined 8 of 25 (32%).  PLU is going to offer up a good challenge on this down against the ‘Cats and I’m curious to see if this trends continues or if it was just a dip in the road.

Linfield receivers making plays: No doubt the ‘Cats are going to take their chances at points during the game on Saturday and try to hit the home run ball. This is a great opportunity for this emerging receiver group to show what they have and go up and get that football. Sam Riddle has been dropping dimes all season long and I’m excited for this receiver group to show what they can do.

Great decision making: I’m looking for this team to make good decisions away from the football and with the football. Don’t kill drives or extend PLU drives with silly mistakes and penalties and take great care of the football. At times, the only thing that has stopped this Linfield football team has been itself.


‘Cats by 27.  I like the PLU defense but Linfield should be the deeper and more talented football team this Saturday.  You only get so many chances to play this game we all love and this Linfield team has been special this season. They have done everything to show this is a National Championship quality contender but you only get their by handling the business in front of you each week.  Ultimately for PLU, they’re just the next team on the list for the ‘Cats to cross off.


DS said...

Rain + Grass

I'll take the 27 and raise you 0.

I'd be happy with a 27-0 game.

'Bubba' said...

Last game for the seniors. Play them as much as possible. Here is hoping that we build a big lead quick and play the seniors the rest of the game. One question. Rated 2nd in the nation, but only 3rd in the region? A little biased anti west voting here I assume?