Wednesday, September 28, 2016

2016 Game 3 Preview: Linfield (1-1) vs Lewis & Clark (0-2)

It's Homecoming weekend!
My gosh it has been a long two weeks. We all know the score right now with the ‘Cats coming off a gut wrenching 2nd half collapse against Mary Hardin-Baylor.  While it hurt that the ‘Cats lost and in that fashion it’s not the end of the world or even the end of the season.  This 2016 Linfield Wildcat football team is still in total control of their destiny.

The UMHB did expose a number of issues that might have never been fully brought to the light if the ‘Cats lambasted a lesser SCIAC team so the ‘Cats have two ways to go. This team can wallow in self-pity and think about how a winnable game turned into the blowup in Belton or Linfield can hone in on their deficiencies as a team and work towards being the best possible Linfield team they can.

For the Wildcat offense that comes down to being to be able to run the football. That starts up front with the Linfield offense line and winning with pad level and sustaining blocks. It also falls on the shoulders of backs to make that one cut and get up the football field and doing that over and over again. If Linfield can find a consistent running attack this offense will be lethal with their ability to throw the ball.

On the other side of the ball, we have to generate a better pass rush, make plays on the football, get teams off the field on 3rd down, and flat out be rock solid on assignments. The front line talent on this defense is there to be a dynamic group but someone on that side of the football needs to take the bulls by the horns and stake claim on what this groups identity is for 2016.

And lastly the special teams unit.  After the first two games, this has to be a matter of pride. Linfield has a long history of standout special teams play and I’m sure this current group will reach down deep and put in the work to get better and become a weapon for the program instead of a hindrance. 

Now don’t freak out after reading those last few paragraphs. 99.8% of Division III coaching staffs around the country would trade their roster for Linfield’s quicker than you can finish reading this sentence.  ALL of the talent is there for Linfield to do something special this season and we might one day look back at the UMHB as a blessing but that is not up to me….it’s up to what this coaching staff and players decided this past Monday, September 19th when this program went back to work.  This upcoming Saturday will be our first chance to see what this team decided to do.

For Lewis and Clark, this is another year where it’s going to be tough to come across wins. The Pioneers are a better football team this year than in last season and is putting out a product on the field where there are players on each side of the ball that actually belong on a college football field. The issue is that the Pioneers just don’t have enough of those guys yet, or have the experience, to start earning some wins on the field and push the conference’s traditional powers.

Get To Know A Wildcat

#1 Mitch Lewis, Rover, Senior
Hometown: Pleasant Hill, OR, High School: Sheldon High School

Favorite place to eat in Mac: Banners

Favorite Movie: Lion King

Favorite Music: Country

Favorite TV show:  The Office

Favorite Book: The Bible

Class I Most Look Forward to: Financial Theory

iPhone or Android:  iPhone

CPU Homepage: Yahoo!

Personal Mantra: Help those who are truly helpless

Social Media of choice:  Twitter

Car or Truck: Truck

Who's a better or Dylan: Depends on who you ask…but me.

What first inspired you to play football:  My Dad

Favorite Coach Smith Saying: Death and Taxes

Favorite part of playing at Linfield: I’ve met my best friends here and get to play football with my brother.

Describe Coach Vaughan in three words: Football Schematic Genius

Post Linfield aspirations: To pursue my degree in finance

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Best the best Linfield team you can be:  This Saturday isn’t about taking out frustration on a Lewis and Clark team after UMHB.  I think that would be a terrible mindset and not productive to the long term goals of this season. This Saturday should be all about the ‘Cats in terms of striving to be the best team they can be in all aspects. I’m talking about beyond the playing field but on the sideline as well. If you’re on the clipboard crew, be the best damn clipboard crew you can, echo “run/pass” calls for the defense, get loud on 3rd down, provide feedback to your teammates, celebrate, be excited to play a college football game.

Run The Ball: Lewis and Clark runs a 3-4 base defense and tries to bring pressure from various combinations and angles. I’d love to see the ‘Cats rushing attack get North and South on Saturday and force their safeties to creep up to help support their rush defense. If Linfield get them in that situation, the ‘Cats will get their chances to open it up deep.

Be physical at the point of attack: Lewis and Clark's O-Line is not a band of shorties anymore that do nothing but cut block. The L&C offense line is checking in about 6’2” and 286 pounds per lineman. L&C is going to try to attack the ‘Cats between the “A” gaps with the running attack and see if they churn out some drives to own time of possession and see if they can soften up the outside edges of the Wildcat defense.  I want to see a physical Linfield defensive line ready to play some smash mouth defense.

Win field position with special teams: L&C doesn’t have very much depth as a program right now so here should be a decisive advantage for Linfield. Our special team’s unit needs to be clean in all aspects in terms of execution and assignments.  I would love to see our returners to be able to catch some punts clean and get some room to do some work.

Handle all the chaos: Like I mentioned above, the Pios are running a 3-4 defense but they are walking up linebackers to the line of scrimmage constantly and showing all sorts of looks that are trying to confuse and hopefully allow free tacklers to get to the ball carriers.  Linfield’s offensive line and Sam Riddle need to be in control of what’s in front of them and have great communication.
Finish tackles: Easy to say, harder to execute.  Get it done.


‘Cats by 24.  Linfield is going to win this football game but it’s just a matter of how. Are the ‘Cats going to come out slow and sloppy, like Linfield did last year at L&C, that slowly takes over or are we going to see the team that has all the promise in the world to be playing late into December. We’ll find out soon enough.  Happy Homecoming and Go ‘Cats!

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