Monday, October 24, 2016

‘Cats Win!!!! Linfield streak on past Whitworth in a 45-31 victory.

#7 Johnny Carroll hauled in 3 first half touchdowns for Linfield.
Photo by: Tyler Tjomsland of the Spoksman-Review
Heck yeah, that was a very good road win at a place where Linfield traditionally has had to gut out some hard fought wins. Whitworth came into the game playing for their playoff and NWC title lives (as was Linfield) and the ‘Cats answered the challenge by pushing the Rats around for over three quarters in building a 28 point lead before letting the game get a little murky when the Rats went on a bit of run late when Linfield put in the backups probably a few series too early (how’s that for some Monday morning quarterbacking).  Regardless, that was a HUGE win as the ‘Cats dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage to punish Whitworth up front with a big yardage output, sack numbers, tight coverage, and stuffing the Rats rushing attack.

Yeah, some of the season long issues that have been nipping at this team were still there with the brutal kickoff coverage, giving the ball away more than taking it away, and at times with some dumb penalties. However, those Linfield warts were just little blemishes that were just mere bumps in the roads of this Linfield steamroller. It was apparent early in the game that while Whitworth has some very good football players, Linfield was the superior club on both sides of the ball. 

For Whitworth, that might just be about it for their 2016 playoff hopes. There was some talk about a potential 1st round rematch if both clubs win out but I just don’t see a pool C bid being floated to Whitworth.  The competition for those six at-large berths is just too great for a 2 loss team with no real signature win. Hell, I could be wrong but I’m not seeing it.

And for the ‘Cats….as an orange faced Presidential candidate would say…YUGE! That was a big win for Linfield as the ‘Cats now move to 5-1 on the season and more importantly, the ‘Cats push their conference record to 4-0 as Linfield comes down the stretch with two of the remaining three games at the ‘Catdome. Up next for Linfield is the surging George Fox Bruins who have won three games in a row and currently sit tied for 2nd place in the NWC with Whitworth at 3-1.  Again, Linfield will be tested by the 3rd/4th year Bruin team as George Fox is playing for a share of the NWC lead and would own the rights to the autobid if they could knock off Linfield this weekend and win out.  This is another DO OR DIE weekend for Linfield as the ‘Cats square off against this cross county foe.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


We’re going STREAKING!!!

I try not to make it a big deal each year but dang….how cool is the streak?  With the win, Linfield locked up the programs’ 61st consecutive winning season as the ‘Cats continue to extend their own college football record and just make history season after season. It’s strange to think that the freshmen on this current roster were newborns when Linfield broke Notre Dame’s and Harvard’s winning streak record with Linfield’s 43 winning season in 1998.

A special shout-out for it happening at Whitworth as the Rats have their own streak history as well.


The Good

First Half of Football: Tremendous half of football for the ‘Cats with being on the road and against a formidable opponent.  Five out of Linfield’s first seven offensive possessions the ‘Cats moved the ball at-will vs. Whitworth and if it wasn’t for a fumble at the Rats’ 2 yard line the ‘Cats should have put up 35 points in that half. On the flip side, the ‘Cats defense was fantastic in limiting what was the number one offense in Division 3 coming into the game. Linfield forced Whitworth into 6 punts (four 3 and outs) and only allowed one true drive for score.  Overall, a very good half of Linfield football. 

Rush Defense: We talked about it in the game preview, Whitworth is going to get theirs in the air no matter what but you cannot allow them to effectively rush the football or it will be nearly impossible to contain them.  The ‘Cats defense was more than up for the task in holding Whitworth to a season low 25 yards of rushing on 33 attempts (0.8 rushing yards).  For the second week in a row, Linfield’s defense held the then NWC leading rusher to their season low.  This time, it was Duke DeGaetano who rushed for 37 yards on 16 carries (2.3 yards per rush).

Total Offensive Production: Linfield posted the 7th best single game offensive total in program history with 664 total yards (the record is 793 yards vs L&C in 2001) as Linfield averaged 8.0 yards per play with 253 rushing yards and 411 passing yards. I thought the ‘Cats offensive line was the catalyst in allowing Sam Riddle PLENTY of time to operate and provide space for the rushing attacked to get off.  At times, Riddle could have ordered room service and still get another 20 yard passing strike off. 

Sam Riddle, wearing Parker's number 35, was electric all afternoon for the Wildcats.
Photo by: Tyler Tjomsland of the Spoksman-Review
Kicking Game: Kevin McClean and Willy Warne both had a darn good day booting the football for the ‘Cats. McClean punted the ball 6 times for a 36.8 average with a long of 40 yards, and Warne did a great job with his kickoff placement (we’ll talk about the coverage of those kicks below) and nailed a 41-yard field goal in the 4th quarter.  Good day for the legs.

3rd down defense: Whitworth was 4 of 18 on 3rd down. That’s how you win football games. The ‘Cats defense was suffocating the explosive Whitworth offense through 3 and ½ quarters and kept Rat QB Ian Kolste uncomfortable in the pocket with a combination of pressure and making him hold onto the football due to tight pass coverage by Linfield.

#2 Dylan Lewis and the 'Cats secondary did a great job in slowing down Whitworth.
Photo by: Tyler Tjomsland of the Spoksman-Review

Offensive Playmaking: Linfield just had dudes making plays on Saturday. From Sam Riddle throwing bombs, Johnny Carroll grabbing TD’s at will, Eric Igbinoba getting lose deep, Reed Peterson once again being lethal after the catch, Zack Kuzens being clutch, extending drives and setting up scores, and Cassill/Payne/Choisser banging and clanging behind the offensive line. There were a lot of ‘Cats getting into the act and that is when this offense is at its best.

Pressure: Linfield almost doubled their sack today on the season in racking up 5 sacks for 45 yards and making Kolste move off his spot many times over the course of the game.  Sacks are critical drive stoppers and played a big roll in Linfield’s defense bogging down the high powered Rats.

The Bad

Penalties: Maybe it’s in the water but Linfield and the Eastern Washington officials just don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to infractions. The ‘Cats were penalized 11 times for 120 yards and that’s just way too much.  However, that’s not the first time Linfield was penalized 11 times in Spokane as Linfield was penalized 11 times for 95 yards in 2013, 11 times for 104 yards in 2011, and 11 times for 110 yards in 2005 in the Pine Bowl.  Strange, man….strange.

The Ugly

Kickoff Team: Our coverage on kickoff team this year has been poor and this weekend was no different.  It doesn’t matter if you cover 5 kickoffs great but then allow 3 or 4 more to break for huge returns.  That still sucks and our kickoff coverage against Whitworth was terrible. Allowing big returns directly led to 10 of Whitworth’s 17 points while the ‘Cats were still trying to ice the game away.  Linfield better get this corrected or this is going to burn this team when it matters most.

No comments: