Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Game 8 preview: Linfield (7-0) vs Puget Sound (5-2)

It's going down in the 'Catdome.
Another huge game in the 2015 Northwest Conference race is going down this weekend in the ‘Catdome as the Puget Sound Loggers will be playing for a share of the NWC lead for the first time in a long time as the Loggers come to McMinnville. That was not a typo and I’m not making a mistake.  Yes, the Loggers right now sit at 4-1 in NWC play, with their only conference loss, a 24-7 decision on Oct 10th to Whitworth.  UPS just clinched their first winning season last weekend since 2006 when the Loggers finished at 7-3 and the 4 Northwest Conference victories this season are the most UPS has managed since the NWC officially reformed back in 1999.  What funny is that the NWC coaches tabbed the Loggers to finished dead last in the NWC coaches poll this year, which was a joke considering Lewis & Clark has been so terrible for so long and GFU was only in year three/two of their restart.  So I’m sure the UPS players and staff has enjoyed sticking that in the NWC coaches’ mugs over the past month of play as the Loggers are an improved football program that has a true shot at finish in the top half of the conference.

UPS has always had decent to good skill players but what’s made the big difference for the Loggers this season over past years is their physicality. The Loggers are much more physical in the trenches than they have been in more recent seasons and that physical improvement has allowed UPS to execute their scheme at a much more proficient rate and that’s equated to victories over other NWC programs that have owned them in years past.

Right now, the Loggers own the 2nd best offense in the conference in terms of yards per game at 436.0 per and the 3rd best defense in the NWC in only giving up 21.9 points per game.  So right away you can see that Linfield is going to have a good challenge on both sides of the ball.  The Logger offense is a pass first and pass second offense.  I’m not sure if it’s officially an Air Raid type of offense but I do like calling it the Air Log offense.  The Loggers have passed for 2,577 yards on the season and only rushed for 475 total yards…for the year. That’s 67.8 yards rushing as a team per game.  But I don’t blame the Loggers for it as their pass game is an extension of the run game with all the short crossing routes, hitches, screens they run.  However, the Loggers’ offense does have some big play in it as well and own 3 of the 4 top receivers in the NWC in terms of yardage per game.

On the other side of the ball, the Loggers are running a 3-4 base defense and have a collection of very solid linebackers and defensive backs and are led by Senior Linebacker Chris Beaulaurier who leads the NWC in total tackles and Safety Jacob Wuesthoff who is 3rd in the NWC in total tackles.  The Loggers don’t get to the QB very often but where they’ve been making their money as a defense is on 3rd down and in the Red Zone.  Right now the Loggers have the best 8th best red zone defense in the country in only allowing a 53% conversion rate (10 TDs, 1 FG on 30 attempts) and 18th best 3rd down defense in the country in only giving up 1st down conversions 28.6 percent of the time.  That’s a formula for winning football.

Those stats are very impressive and should have Linfield’s attention this week as there is a ton to play for this weekend. This is a huge football game for both programs and Linfield is going to get everything in the kitchen sink for the UPS.  I’m very excited to see how the ‘Cats respond to another challenger that’s knocking on the door. 

Get To Know A Wildcat
#46 Marcus McGovern, Defensive End, Sophomore
Hometown: Eugene, Or. High School: Sheldon High

Favorite restaurant in Mac: Grain station

Favorite Movie: lord of the rings

Favorite Music: Classic Rock

Favorite TV show: That 70's Show

Favorite Book: Lord of the Rings

Favorite class at Linfield: Advanced Assessment of Athletic Injuries

iPhone or Android: iPhone

CPU homepage: Google

Personal Mantra: Always show respect and you will give no reason to be disrespected.

Social media of choice: Facebook

Car or Truck: Truck

Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii: I don't play video games

What inspired you to first play football:  My grandfather bought me a 49ers jersey when I was a little kid.

Favorite Coach Smith saying: Somebody's gotta go to jail.

Favorite part of playing at Linfield: Winning games with my good friends.

Describe Coach Vaughn in three words: Never stops working

Post Linfield aspirations: Get a job in athletic training and do things that make me happy.

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Start Fast, Finish Strong:  During NWC play, the Loggers are only allowing 9.2 points in the first half of play so it’s important for the ‘Cats to come out of the gates fast and ready to meet the challenge head on. The Loggers have shown tremendous fight as the game moves on so Linfield has to have a mindset of keeping the peddle down for all four quarters of play.

Great tackling day:  The Linfield defense needs to have a fantastic day of tackling against Puget Sound.  The Loggers are going to get their completions but if the ‘Cats can minimize the yards after catch, it will go a long ways to bottle up the Loggers offense.  UPS has a good trio of receivers that have made a lot of people miss in the open field so the ‘Cats have to bring their football fundamentals to work on Saturday.

Winning on 3rd down and the Red Zone: As we already talked about, it’s the strength of the Logger defense so if the ‘Cats can do what they’ve done for the great majority of the year and be spectacular in these situations, Linfield should be in great shape to get points up on the board. Our offense has to own these situations on Saturday.

Calling all defensive backs and linebackers: It would be easy to say that UPS is just a dump off offense but the Loggers will mix it up and try to get the home run ball going as well.  The Loggers own 3 out of the top 4 receivers in the NWC in terms of yardage per game in Brennan Schon, Kevin Miller, and Peter Bell.  Schon is the home run threat as the junior is averaging 23.6 yards per catch, Miller is the dirty work over the middle guy as he leads the NWC with 66 receptions and is elusive with the ball in his hands, and Bell is the Loggers release valve that keeps teams honest against Schon and Miller.  Linfield pass defense has been incredible all year long and this could be the best challenge to date against the Air Log.

Pressure: The Loggers have allowed 19 sacks per game (2.71) which is pretty good when you consider they’ve attempted 344 passes on the year. UPS QB Hans Fortune will get the ball out of his hands quickly much of the time but the Logger QB will hold onto it for the longer developing routes and that’s when the ‘Cats pressure has to get there.  If Linfield can move Fortune off his mark, it should help disrupt the Logger offense.

Attacking balanced offense: We’ve seen it before but when the ‘Cats are a balanced offense; it’s a tough cover for any defense in the country.  UPS has shown they are a very good defense with their backs against the wall so Linfield has to attack with that rushing attack and then hurt them in the air with our fleet of play making receivers. I would love to see the offense be in attack mode from the opening series.

Special teams: The ‘Cats special teams units need to come to play against the Loggers. Linfield should have the advantage here and make the Loggers pay in terms of not allowing ideal field position and set up the Linfield offense with a few short porches to work with.  Once again, the Linfield special teams could have a major impact on this game’s outcome.


‘Cats by 21. You better believe that UPS is coming into this game ready to play and give the ‘Cats all they can handle.  It’s been a slow build for this UPS program but you know this is what their coaching staff envisioned a few years ago when they started to get their sea legs. For Linfield, it’s another challenge looking to take what this program has and I know this team is going to be ready to go from the opening kickoff to the final seconds run off the clock.  Go ‘Cats!


DS said...

Truthfully did not expect 21 after that complimentary write up.

I say 17 and we'll take anything in between.

This is the time of year when east of the Rockies tune in to our broadcasts (though doubt but west regionally ranked staffs would pay $12.99) so we have to win with what brung us. Not giving away anything new.

I get to see this one live!

Unknown said...

Phone it in, Cats by 28 at the half baby !!