|The 'Cats walked on passed their second NWC test of the 2016 season.|
While the ‘Cats did have their first half turnover struggles, this was the first true test Post-UMHB that the ‘Cats had and Linfield passed with flying colors. I thought that the ‘Cats defense was tremendously physical up front and the Linfield secondary was excellent (that group will only get better as we get back some key players from injury) and Linfield’s rushing attack wore out the Boxers up front as the game went on and set up the ‘Cats big play passing attack in that second half. Was it perfect for Linfield? Not even close and while it may have been a tad frustrating in that first half, the great news is this Linfield team still has tremendous room to grow in multiple areas.Linfield's @Mike_Arkans20's made @fox12oregon Oregon Sports Final's plays of the week. #Catdome pic.twitter.com/GeOdWYjuwf— Catdomealumni.com (@catdomealumni) October 10, 2016
I still believe that Linfield’s best football in 2016 is still in front of them. All of the components of a great football team are all there for Linfield but the ‘Cats have to start choking out the issues that have been holding this group back from playing at the highest possible level.
Second Half Adjustments: Fantastic halftime adjustments by the Wildcat offense that had to make some adjustments to the Pacific defense and came out and salted the game away with that 21 point outburst in the 3rd quarter of play. There was zero panic or frustration in the locker-room at halftime from the ‘Cats coaching staff or players. In fact, Coach Smith seemed to relish in the fact that Linfield had some adversity that this team needed to respond to and they did just that. The Boxers came out at the break hyped up beyond belief to be only down 10 to Linfield but the ‘Cats quickly extinguished any hopes of it to be a four quarter ballgame quickly.
Overall Defensive Effort: I thought the Wildcat defense played a hell of a game this past weekend. The ‘Cat defense was put in tough position after tough position and responded by only allowing a single touchdown on the day and held the Boxer offense in check by only allowing 258 yards of total offense (3.4 yards per play) and only allowing Pacific to go 3 of 20 on 3rd down. I thought all three levels of the Wildcat defense played a strong football game.
The Rushing Attack: One of Linfield’s best rushing games of the season as the ‘Cats ran for 224 net yards off of 40 rushing attempts. That is good for a 5.6 rushing average, and two rushing TDs. I thought the Linfield offensive line did a great job in matching the physical intensity of the Boxers and Wildcat running back stable did a fine job in getting more North/South and hitting the holes aggressively. That running threat was the key in setting up the huge bombs the passing game was able to hit in that second half.
Rushing Defense: Loved it. The Boxer’s best rushing play was the quarterback scramble as Pacific’s QB led their team in rushing with 47 yards on seven scrambles. However, when it came to set rushing plays the Boxers could only manage 47 yards on 21 attempts. The ‘Cats ate up the Boxer rushing attack and with blunt physical tackling. Including this bone jarring tackle by Linebacker Jason Farlow in the 1st half of play.The juke and cutback by @Sutter_Choice22's 40 yard TD run vs Pacific was smooth as silk. #Catdome pic.twitter.com/gukpxpsYwu— Catdomealumni.com (@catdomealumni) October 10, 2016
Big Play Offense: The Boxers defense were determined to take away the timing passing game and the sidelines of the Linfield passing attack so Linfield adjusted by going over the top. Sam Riddle three long touchdowns of 44, 40, and 58 yards to three different targets (Erick Douglass III, Reed Peterson, and Bryan Cassill) to help put the Boxers to bed. Added to the mix was the backbreaker when running back Sutter Choisser broke free from 40 yards out, juked a Boxer defender clean, and cut backed from about 15 yards out to put the dagger in Pacific.Coach @CoachRombach37 might go to sleep tonight watching this hit on a loop by @jfarlow7. #Catdome pic.twitter.com/tPK9KK16iA— Catdomealumni.com (@catdomealumni) October 9, 2016
Blanket Coverage: Linfield has a darn good secondary and that was in full display this Saturday. The Wildcat’s defense held Pacific to 17 of 48 passing for 164 yards (3.4 yards per attempt), 7 knockdowns, and two huge interceptions, including the game altering 84 yard pick six by safety Mikey Arkans with 15 seconds left in the first half when Linfield was holding onto a 13-10 lead. A huge day by the ‘Cats secondary.
Four First Half Turnovers: The Wildcats might have pitched a shutout this past Saturday but turnovers reared their ugly head in that first half and allowed Pacific to stay in the ballgame and threaten to make it closer before the Arkin’s pick six. The ‘Cats have yet to have a turnover free game and need to work on tightening up this area as the season continues.
Third-Down Conversion: The ‘Cats offense could manage a 2 out 12 performance on 3rd down this past Saturday vs Pacific. It was a combination of miscues that prevented the ‘Cats from extended multiple drives in that first half. We had snaps on the wrong count, dropped passes, interceptions, etc. While the offense did get the big play going in the second half, I’m sure the offense won’t be pleased with their 3rd down performance.
Penalties: Ten yellow flags for 70 yards is just too much for my taste. There were just some silly flags that crippled promising drives or put the offense is terrible field positon.
Pacific’s Turf: Wow, I remember walking on the Boxers turf back in 2013 and didn’t think it was in that great of shape and the past three years hasn’t been very kind to the surface. I mean, Donald Trump has a better rug than the turf at Hanson Stadium. That has to be the worst surface in the NWC and that’s saying something considering Puget Sound’s grass field is hot garbage.