Monday, October 21, 2013

The End Of The Road...

Unfortunately, due to a combination of software failures on my computer and blog, my earlier computer crash, increased activity in my personal life, and a desire to take on a different style of writing, I am closing up shop on WildcatSpread40 for the season. It's been an honor following the Linfield Wildcats and the northwest conference for the past two and a half seasons, and I thoroughly enjoyed following the high-level football. Good luck in your quest for a national championship!

-Justin Derby

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Linfield vs Pacific Lutheran: Instant Analysis...

What was supposed to be a Northwest Conference classic turned into another Linfield massacre.  The second-ranked wildcats broke free in the fourth quarter, defeating the #11 Lutes 29-0 on a sunny afternoon at Maxwell field.  For much of the game, it seemed like we would have an SEC-style defensive slug fest.  Instead, PLU fell apart in the fourth quarter.

It was over when:  Dalton Richey threw three interceptions on three straight possessions after Linfield took a 19-0 lead.  Whatever chances PLU had of coming back at that point vanished as Richey's ball security issues from the first three games came roaring back in a bad way.

Gameball goes to:  Defensive end Jeremy Girod.  Girod lead the Linfield pass rush by recording two of Linfield's four quarterback sacks.  The constant pressure on Dalton Richey forced PLU's quarterback to make some horrendous throws, which Linfield started converting into interceptions in the second half.  

stat of the game:  1.8 ypc for PLU.  Coming into the game averaging 195 yards and 5.9 ypc on the ground, the Lutes vaunted rushing attack was held to 40 yards on 22 carries.  This forced Dalton Richey to try and beat Linfield through the air, an effort that backfired in the end.

Unsung hero:  Linfield quarterback Josh Yoder.  While his numbers weren't spectacular, Yoder avoided committing a single turnover against PLU's vaunted defense after throwing four interceptions in his previous two games, something that helped Linfield's offense wear down the PLU defense as the game went on.  

What it means:  The win improves Linfield to 4-0 on the season (1-0 in NWC play), and keeps them in the #2 spot in the national rankings heading into a bye week.  For Pacific Lutheran, the loss drops them to 3-1 on the season (0-1 in NWC play), and they have some serious concerns at quarterback now that Richey has thrown 9 interceptions and put the ball on the ground 7 times in four games.  

What we learned about Linfield in week 4...

Wildcat Defense up there with best:  After holding the Spartans to 76 yards of offense, including -3 in the first half, it became clear on Saturday that the Linfield defense is going to destroy any offense that doesn't have top-ten talent for its personnel.  When you look at what the defenses for Mount Unions and UW-Whitewaters of the world in games like this, they put up similar defensive numbers as Linfield did on Saturday.  A very good sign for the Wildcat D, to be sure.          

Offense still has some kinks to work out:  While the Wildcat offense is still averaging 56 points and 578.3 yards per game, which is among the best in the nation, there are still a lot of kinks to work out.  Josh Yoder has thrown four interceptions in the past two games, and on Saturday seemed to be indecisive with his footwork and decision-making on the zone-read at times.  Linfield's offensive line faced some issues with pass blocking against the Spartans defense, and #11 PLU comes to town with a far superior defense to Case Western's.  Yoder and Linfield's offensive line will have to be on their A-game against PLU, as well at the rest of their schedule.  

Tough match-ups coming up on schedule:  Looking at the Northwest conference this season, Linfield is not going to be able to coast through the rest of the league after their opening match-up with #11 PLU.  They'll have to play on the road against Willamette, a team threatening to break into the top-25.  They will also end the regular season with a road game against Pacific (OR), a team that is not only 3-0 on the season, but looking very good on both sides of the ball.  Granted, this Linfield team is more than talented enough to win all those games and have an undefeated regular season once again, but it would be unwise to sleep on Willamette and Pacific (OR).  

Monday, September 23, 2013

What We Learned About Linfield in Week 3

The Wildcat Defense is Elite:  The Wildcat defense opened up the season against two opponents who not only had top-10 offenses last season, but also had offensive success against Linfield's defense.  Last season, Linfield's defense gave up 35 points and 503 yards to the Hardin-Simmons offense before holding the Cowboys to 321 yards and 21 points in the opener.  Last season, Cal Lutheran gathered 30 points and 446 yards against the Wildcats.  On Saturday, Linfield held the Kingsmen to 361 yards and 14 points.  Considering that these two teams had the best offensive personnel that Linfield may face all season, I think Linfield's defense is going to post some impressive numbers the rest of the regular season.    

The 'Cat Attack may be the best offense in the nation:  Granted it's only been two games, but the 'Cat Attack has been averaging 61.5 points and 653 yards of offense per game.  New quarterback Josh Yoder is proving to be one of the most explosive duel-threat quarterbacks in the nation, having completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 672 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions, while rushing for 109 yards and two touchdowns with a 6.1 yard per carry average.  Maybe the biggest surprise is the explosive running game that has emerged with the re-addition of the zone read into the offense; the Wildcats are averaging 282.5 yards per game on the ground, averaging 5.7 yards per carry as a team.  While the majority of the rushing yards have been balanced between Yoder, RB Josh Hill, and RB Tavon Willis, it will be interesting to see who emerges as the leader on the ground as the season goes along.

Linfield is a legit National Title contender:  After two games, Linfield finds themselves ranked #2 in the nation.  Considering that their defense has played well against two offenses that may end up being two top-10 offenses by the end of the season, and their offense has looked better than any of the other teams ranked in the top-10, I would argue that not only is Linfield a national title contender, but that they should be ranked #1.        

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Missing Content...

Hey folks!  For a couple weeks, the Blogger website wouldn't let me log into this blog, which prevented me from making any updates.  The problem is now fixed, and below are the links to the missing content from the time the blog log-in was down:

NWC Week 1 Wrap-up:  https://soundcloud.com/j_derby_wildcatspread40/nwc-wrap-up-week-1

NWC Week 2 Predictions:  https://soundcloud.com/j_derby_wildcatspread40/nwc-week-2-predictions

NWC Week 2 Wrap-up:  https://soundcloud.com/j_derby_wildcatspread40/nwc-wrap-up-week-2

NWC Week 3 Predictions:  https://soundcloud.com/j_derby_wildcatspread40/nwc-week-3-predictions

Linfield vs Cal Lutheran postgame analysis video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrjd5ViruqE

NWC Week 3 Wrap-up:  https://soundcloud.com/j_derby_wildcatspread40/nwc-wrap-up-week-3


Starting this week, WildcatSpread40 will begin writing up "What Did We Learn About Linfield" articles, and starting next Saturday, Instant Analysis articles will be written about each Linfield game.  See you soon!  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Northwest Conference Week 1 Predictions...

Just in case you didn't see it on the blog's Facebook page, the twitter feed, the Linfield College Mass Communication Department Facebook page, or on the WildcatSpread40 SoundCloud account itself, here is the link to the Week 1 predictions for the Northwest Conference:

https://soundcloud.com/j_derby_wildcatspread40/northwest-conference-week-1

Hope you all have fun watching/listening to the games, and see you on Saturday night for the week 1 wrap-up show!        

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Northwest Conference Pre-Season Predictions...

Below is WildcatSpread40's predictions for the Northwest Conference in 2013; click on each team name in order to listen to the SoundCloud clip that accompanies it:

1.  Linfield



4.  Whitworth





If anyone has been paying attention, my predictions look exactly like the NWC coaches pre-season poll.  This blogger don't know about the reasoning behind the coaches of the conference, but the predictions are very tentative.  4-6 is very much a crapshoot, and 2-3 are so close to each other in talent that they're interchangeable in this blogger's mind.  

Be sure to stay tuned!  Follow WildcatSpread40 on Twitter and facebook!