Wednesday, October 5, 2016

2016 Game 4 preview: Linfield (2-1) at Pacific (1-3)

Looking like a beautiful Saturday for College Football.
First road NWC game of the season and it’s going to be a good one. Linfield heads back to Pacific for the 3rd times since the Boxers started playing football again in 2010.  The ‘Cats actually haven’t played in Forest Grove since the 2013 season due to the scheduling resetting by the conference that saw Pacific make back-to-back trips to Mac in 2014 and ’15.  In both of those previous contests, the ‘Cats hammered Pacific 59-0 and 77-10. It wasn't that Pacific had bad football teams in each of the past two seasons but but they just met Linfield teams that were clicking and playing a top level of football.

This time, the Boxers get Linfield back in their home confines where the memories of that 2013 ballgame still has to reside with the Pacific coaching staff and current group of their seniors (who were freshmen during that game). That 2013 contest saw Linfield have to make a second half comeback to narrowly escape with a 28-22 victory.  Pacific, in their 4th year at the time, celebrated the season ending loss like a victory with one player stating “they punched a giant in the mouth.”  With Linfield coming back to town, the Boxers have to feel like this year’s game will be different that 2014 and 2015 with Linfield being in their house.

What worries me the most about this weekend is mindset.  I’ve said it a few times on the blog already but the Boxers could easily be a 3-1 football team right now and appear to be a much more credible threat that a team that is sitting at 1-3. Couple that with the fact Pacific just dropped a game against PLU and I'm curious if there is a possibility that the ‘Cats could come into the game with their guard down? I hope not, and I would think that the lessons of the Willamette loss in 2014 is still fresh enough in this program’s mind to not look past a viable football team that has taken some tough breaks.

Some of you reading this might be thinking that I’m working hard to make Pacific seem better than what they are and that’s for a reason. I’ve had the chance to watch Pacific play a few times this year, thanks to the power of the internet, and this is a football team capable of giving the ‘Cats all Linfield can handle. I though the ‘Cats looked sharp last weekend but that was against a still “work in progress” Lewis & Clark program. To me, this is the first real test for this 2016 Linfield team “post-UMHB”.  This is the game that will speak loudly to me about just what direction this group is headed.  I still content that this Linfield football team has all the ability in the world to reach the ultimate destination but it has to be earned and not given. We’ll find out on Saturday in just how bad the ‘Cats want to earn it.

Get To Know A Wildcat

#9 Kyle Chandler, Linebacker, Senior
Hometown: Carnation, WA   High School: Redmond High School

Favorite place to eat in Mac: Tequila Grill (The Taco Stand Outside)

Favorite Movie: The Departed

Favorite Music: Country

Favorite TV show: Justified

Favorite Book: Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

Class I Most Look Forward to: History of Baseball

iPhone or Android: iPhone

CPU Homepage: Google

Personal Mantra: “Toughness is a state of mind”

Social Media of choice: Twitter

Car or Truck: Truck

How does it feel to have your little brother playing for the 'Cats: Pretty awesome to see him here, and see him working his tail off at practice every day, and it's good to know he's in such a great program and a great place for the next four years

What first inspired you to play football: My dad was a college football player – a Lute, if you can believe that – and a high school coach until I was 18, so I always grew up wanting to play on Friday nights and eventually Saturday afternoons.

Favorite Coach Smith Saying: “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Favorite part of playing at Linfield: The camaraderie and the great relationships with my teammates and coaches.

Describe Rombach in three words: “He’s not awful.”

Post Linfield aspirations: Get a job in sales or marketing and coach high school football

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Be ready for a four quarter game: This is a capable Pacific football team and this Boxer football is playing for their season on Saturday (as is Linfield in a lot of ways). This is a very dangerous game for Linfield if the ‘Cats come up to Forest Grove half-stepping. The mindset has to be that of a team that is preparing for a dogfight of a football game. That comes from the upperclassmen setting the tone and expectations.

Win the line of scrimmage: Physicality. Pacific prides themselves on being a physical team in how
they approach the line of scrimmage.  Their balanced attack on offense is based off of establishing a downhill running attack. The Boxers will tighten up the line splits, bring in a fullback, and run it right at you. On the other side of the ball the Boxers run a hard-nosed 4-3 defense with a good collection of Linebackers. The ‘Cats HAVE to be the more physical of the two teams because who wins the line of scrimmage is going to be the team in control of this contest.

Keep bodies off of Sam Riddle in the pocket:  The Boxers can get to the Quarterback and leading the charge is All-NWC defensive end Jeff Bajema who is helping Pacific average four sacks a game. Linfield’s offensive line not only needs to help establish the Linfield rushing attack but equally be up to the challenge to keep the pocket clean for Riddle to operate.

Don’t give up big plays:  Pacific can either grind it out or they have guys that can pop big plays. The Boxers have a legit home run hitter on the outside in Kobe Williams who is averaging 16.5 yards a catch, 3 TDs, and has popped a number of big ones. The ‘Cats have been banged up a corner so far this year and have a good challenge with Williams and the Pacific receivers.

Win the specials teams battle: The last two seasons against Pacific, Linfield has outdone the Boxers in every way possible in special teams but we know the ‘Cats have had their struggles in this area so far in 2016. The ‘Cats have to have their best special teams game of the season in order to help the ‘Cats take care of business vs. Pacific.

Take care of the football: You've read this from me hundreds of times but I write it because it's true. Turnovers can turn a game on it's head in an instant. Ball security must be a top priority for any Wildcat touching the football. Not only QB's/WR's/RB's but anyone receiving a kick, snapping the ball, etc. Making good decisions with the football has to be paramount.


‘Cats by 10.  I’m not expecting anything like the last two games in McMinnville where Linfield blasted the Boxers out of Yamhill County.  I’m expecting a top level effort from the Boxers on Saturday but if Linfield is sharp and plays to the potential of this roster then I’m expecting the ‘Cats to leave Forest Grove with a hard fought win and move to 2-0 on the season in NWC play.

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