Thursday, October 13, 2016

2016 Game 5 Preview: Linfield (3-1) vs Willamette (2-3)

Let's go 'Cats! And by that, I mean Wildcats!
Breakout your booties, it’s going to be wet and wild this Saturday afternoon in the ‘Catdome. A major storm started moving through the entire Pacific Northwest tonight (Thursday) and will be doing damage to the area all the way through Saturday.  The ‘Catdome is going to experience heavy rain and strong winds all afternoon and it should make for a crazy setting for college football.  Being a videographer, I would prefer perfectly dry overcast conditions to shoot in but as a football fan, I’m looking forward to a soaker this weekend. Yeah, the downpour at George Fox last year wasn’t that great for the Wildcat offense last season but Linfield has the talent and ability offensively to be productive in the wet.

Going into this game with Willamette, the ‘Cats currently sit 2-0 in the 2016 race for the NWC crown and every game is a must for Linfield if the ‘Cats want to control their own Destiney.  While Linfield does have their fate in their own hands, the loss to UMHB put Linfield’s margin of error at a minimum and every NWC game is giant for the ‘Cats. Really, it’s the playoffs in October for the Wildcats and Linfield has to attack every Saturday as their post-season lives depend on it, because it does.

Through four games, the Wildcats calling card has been a hard hitting and cover rich defense and big play offense.  While the defense hasn’t been very sack heavy this season, the Linfield defense does make QB’s very uncomfortable in the pocket due to the ‘Cats coverage being so tight.  The ‘Cats defense is only allowing 155.0 passing yards a game and haven’t allowed a rushing TD in their first two NWC games (10.0 PPG allowed). On the offensive side of the ball, it’s been a diverse and big play offense led by Sam Riddle. The Senior has been throwing TD’s at blistering pace (18 through 4 games) and has hit seven different targets for touchdown. Rushing the ball has been a three headed attack between Payne, Cassill, and Choisser who have split up the carries by thirds behind a talent but evolving offensive line featuring a starting lineup of 2 seniors, 1 juniors, and 3 sophomores (adding TE Byron Greenlee to the sophomore mix). I still don’t think this offense has been full realized yet as there have been some small issues that have killed promising drives in the first four games. If those items can be ironed out then watch out of an offense that is already averaging 45.5 points per game.

For Willamette, the Bearcats are a program that’s reconfiguring themselves. The Bearcats started the season off looking like a disaster but pulled the nose up and showed a lot of moxie in coming back to knock off Cal Lutheran in So. Cal before double barrel blasting Puget Sound up in Tacoma. While the shine did come off some for the Bearcats in a 30-10 loss to PLU, Linfield better take note that this Willamette team is coming for four quarters.  On the season, Willamette has been the better team in the second half in four of their five games this season (at Rhodes: 21-14, vs College of Idaho: 12-15, at CLU: 21-3, at Puget Sound: 24-12, vs PLU: 10-7).  That is a sign of a team that makes good adjustments at half and whose players are giving their all for four quarters. So if Linfield is sleeping (after 2014’s loss at the ‘Catdome to Willamette), and they better not be, but if they are the Bearcats have shown flight and the ability to get better as the game goes on.

Get to Know A Wildcat.

#9 Sutter Choisser, Running Back, Junior
Hometown: Rocklin, CA., High School: Whitney High School

Favorite place to eat in Mac: Grain Station

Favorite Movie: The Dark Knight

Favorite Music: Hip-hop/ Rap

Favorite TV show: Criminal Minds

Favorite Book: Mind Gym

Class I Most Look Forward to: HHPA 261 Physical Activity for Children

iPhone or Android: iPhone

CPU Homepage: My score against Chapman this year.

Personal Mantra: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.

Social Media of choice: Twitter

Car or Truck: Car

When did you know Linfield was the right choice for you: After coming on my visit and seeing the cats play I knew before halftime this was the place for me.

What first inspired you to play football: Growing up watching my Dad and Uncle play. Also, my dad coached with me in a baby front pack when I was an infant so I was exposed to it at an early age

Favorite Coach Smith Saying: You only deserve two things in life. Death and Taxes

Favorite part of playing at Linfield: The brotherhood

Post Linfield aspirations: Either be a College Coach or a Strength and Conditioning Coach somewhere.

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory:

Embrace The Storm: It’s going to not only be raining Cats and Bearcats on Saturday but the wind is going to be a huge element as some local weather geeks are calling the strong blowing through the Pacific Northwest on all day Saturday, and according to Accuweather, picking up to 20-30 MPH gusts that could wreak havoc on anything you’re planning on doing outside this weekend, let alone playing a football game. Well, if you’re Linfield, there is nothing you can do to change the weather so you might as well embrace the opportunity to play in sideways rain and have a story to relive with your teams and tell your kids about one day. Embrace it.  Linfield is like the Post Office, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these Wildcats from the swift scoring of touchdowns or dropping the hammer on some fools.”

Ball Security is Paramount: Linfield is currently a -3 in turnover margin on the year which isn’t great. That means through four games Linfield has given the ball over 3 more times than they have taken it away. Historically since 2000, Linfield has only been a negative turnover team twice (2006 and 2008). Turnovers have been the biggest hurdle that has kept this team from reaching their full potential, and with the weather going to be as bad as it’s going to be, this area of needed growth for Linfield will be in full view.

Take away the Bearcat Rushing Attack: Willamette’s offense rests on the productivity of senior running back Taylor Wyman. The 5’8”, 183 lb back is averaging 118.2 rushing yards a game and has 5 rushing TD’s to his credit. The next closest back to Wyman in Jack Valencia who has a single rush for 96 yards on the season. That tells you just how much the Bearcats are placing on Wyman’s shoulders to carry the load to the Bearcats. Willamette works out of the gun in a single back or two back look and whose offensive line has some generous line splits that try to stretch out the defense pre-snap via alignment.  It will go a long way for the Wildcat defense if they can take away Wyman.

Have to be able to run the football: This is a no-brainer.  With the potential weather conditions, Linfield has to once again find their rushing game. Along with that, the Bearcats 3-4 front has caused some slow starts for the Wildcat offense the past two season so it’s paramount for Linfield’s offense to get North and South and control the line of scrimmage.

Doing little things right:  Yeah, it’s probably cliché to write something along the lines of doing little things right but this week, doing the little things right will play a huge factor into just what type of football game this is. When I talk about little things, I’m talking about not jumping off sides, executing your assignments, consistent quality snapping of the football, lining up right, etc, etc. Not doing the little things right was a huge factor in Linfield’s 2014 loss to Willamette at the ‘Catdome. If Linfield does enough of the little things right, it will only add up to big success.


‘Cats by 13. I might push that score up a little more if this game was going to be played on a dry track but mothernature might have a say at keeping this game closer.  Linfield needs to play as clean as game as possible and not give Willamette any easy points and control field position. If Linfield can do these things and take care of the football it will be a wet Linfield victory in the ‘Catdome.

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