Tag Archives: columnist

First-round playoff predictions

Hey ’Cats. The regular season is now officially over, and with the Northwest Conference championship sewed up, we can start talking playoffs as a reality.

The NCAA’s selection show on Nov. 13 revealed that No. five Linfield will host a rematch against a revamped No. eight California Lutheran University team that hasn’t lost since the season-opening game at Maxwell Field.

Cal Lutheran has been a vastly different team since the ’Cats won a low-scoring affair on Sept. 10.

The Kingsmen have scored more than 52 points in their last six contests, including a 70-20 pasting of Occidental College on Nov. 12.

Their defense only allows 16.2 points and 292.2 yards of total offense per game, and has taken the ball away 18 times for a +6 turnover margin so far.

However, take these statistics with a grain of salt: only three of Cal Lu’s eight victories this season have come against teams with winning records.

The win-loss percentage of the teams they’ve top 52 points against is a combined 19-35, so it’s not as if they’ve been playing teams like Linfield every weekend.

Furthermore, their average margin of victory against teams with winning records (Pacific Lutheran and Redlands) is a meager 7.5 points.

I have my doubts as to how tough this Kingsmen team will really be when facing a Top-five team on the road, especially one that already held them to a season-low 14 points last time they met.

Cal Lu can score a pile of points if they’re facing a defense that will let them score a pile of points, and any defense would look good playing teams like Pomona-Pitzer, who didn’t win a single game this season.

On the other hand, Linfield’s defense has consistently shut down teams with high win-loss margins, like Willamette, Lewis & Clark and Cal Lu, and that consistency is going to be what anchors this team through their playoff run.

Furthermore, junior quarterback Mickey Inns was making his first career start against the Kingsmen to start the season and had a marginal outing.

Since then, he’s become a red-hot scoring threat from any distance any time he drops back to pass.

I’m not kidding you; the kid’s got a damn laser out there.

Here’s my prediction: Cal Lu puts a few points up early to keep things close out of the gate, but the Kingsmen offense is once again baffled in the long run by Linfield’s tough D.

A seasoned Mickey Inns is the difference maker in a game that quickly becomes a Wildcat blowout in the second and third quarters. Final score: Linfield 38, Cal Lu 14.

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Chris Forrer
/Sports columnist
Chris Forrer can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

Football mid-season report card is out

Hey ’Cats. We’ve reached the midpoint in the fall sports season, a time I usually like to take to reflect on how the team has performed thus far and what areas still need focus as the year rolls on.

So far this football season, we’ve seen a young quarterback come into his own, a running game suddenly revitalized and a streak preserved for a 56th consecutive season.

Here’s the mid-season report card for the football program in a few condensed areas.

OFFENSE:

The Wildcats’ offense has been nothing short of prolific when everything is clicking this season, averaging 453 yards of total offense and 43.6 points per game.

In close games like those against Cal Lutheran and Willamette, the offense has been able to execute clutch plays and convert in the red zone when needed most. Junior quarterback Mickey Inns has found his passing touch, throwing at least one touchdown in every game this season and racking up four consecutive games with more than 200 yards through the air to only three interceptions.

Junior tailback Josh Hill, stepping in against Cal Lutheran for the injured Aaron Williams, has created havoc for opposing
defenses while averaging more than 80 yards per game.

A deep receiving core has provided Inns with many targets to choose from; eight receivers have nabbed touchdown catches this season. The offensive line has been rock solid, giving up only two sacks all season.

Dropped passes continue to be an issue, however. Last week against Pacific, two clean passes by Inns that would have become touchdowns were dropped in the end zone. Also, the Wildcats had 10 penalties for 96 yards that kept the pace of the game slow and gave Pacific additional chances to score. These mistakes can and will be fatal once playoff season begins.

GRADE: B+

DEFENSE:

The top defense in the Northwest Conference continues to flex its strength every contest. This year, the Wildcat defense is allowing only eight points and 291 yards per game, a jaw-dropping statistic through five games.

Sophomore standouts Tyler Robitaille and Dominique Forrest have been key players on a young linebacking core that has helped
gather 23 sacks for 148 lost yards and 77 tackles for loss that resulted in a net 245 yards lost.

The ball-hawking veteran secondary has pulled down nine interceptions so far this season, including two from All-American safety Drew Fisher, who also leads the team in tackles.

It’s hard to find fault with such a stifling defensive performance, but there are always little things present that bear scrutiny. Clean, consistent tackling is always the ideal level to strive for as a defense, and some missed tackles in the backfield and in open space have led to big plays by opposing offenses. On the whole this has been pretty clean, but nonetheless is something to continue to work towards. Additionally, silly penalties that give life back to an opponent’s offense were a persistent problem against Pacific last weekend.

GRADE: A-

SPECIAL TEAMS:

The unsung hero of the 2011 season, Linfield’s special teams play has been unreal. Junior punter Josh Repp has pinned six of his 16 punts within the 20-yard line and is averaging 34.9 yards a punt.

The return team has been stellar as well, with one kickoff returned 86 yards for a score last weekend against Pacific and two punts blocked and returned for scores in the past two weeks as well.

Coach Joseph Smith has mixed up his return men and found success across the board, with six Wildcats averaging more than 20 yards a return. Kicker Josh Kay has been near perfect, only missing one field goal against Willamette in heavy rain but nailing all 29 of his PAT attempts.

I don’t have a lot of negative things to say about Linfield special teams this season except that the onside kick attempt against Puget Sound was pretty terrible. That could use some work.

GRADE: A

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Chris Forrer/
Sports columnist
Chris Forrer can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

Greek support sends the wrong message

Hey ’Cats. I don’t know if you noticed, but there was a clear disparity between the season-opening game on Sept. 10 and last weekend’s contest at Maxwell Field, and I’m not talking about the final margin. While it’s always nice to watch the Wildcats pound the stuffing out of a helpless opponent, I couldn’t help but draw my eyes to the sleepy student section. Only two weeks ago the end zone gate was loaded with screaming students who yelled until they were hoarse. It’s been 14 days…where did these fans go?

It occurred to me the other night after a short conversation with a frustrated fan that opening weekend was the kickoff for sorority recruitment. Before I say anything further, understand that I’m not one of those gloom-and-doom naysayers who think that the men and women affiliated with a Greek organization are vacuous, party-hard idiots. Some of my best friends on earth are Greek, and on the whole, I think the system does a lot of good for a lot of people.

With that said, I can’t help but think that most of the Greek sisters who so
fervently gave their support on Sept. 10 but were noticeably absent on Sept. 24 were probably only interested in recruiting for their respective sororities.

I can recall at the Cal Lutheran game hearing young women in the student section talking about how to get the freshmen girls to begin cheering and then inform them about their sorority when they saw how fun it could be.

Last weekend, there were no cheers and there was no support. Sure, some of those sisters probably are interested in football and some were probably there for the La Verne game; but on the whole, Greek
life was a non-factor.

What kind of message do you think you’re sending? That you should only support your school’s sports organizations when you stand to gain something from it? I don’t think that’s what Greek Life intended to indicate, but that’s how it looked to me. If you’re really all about Linfield sports, you go during recruitment and after. Otherwise, all those freshmen girls that you won over to your organization might catch wise that the enthusiasm you showed was just to put butts in seats at your weekly meetings.

Recruiting tactics on the whole must have been effective, because every Greek sister I know was ecstatic after bid day. That is fantastic, and those girls are going to love their new sisters. But I would like to challenge Greek life to step up and continue to show their young members what Linfield is all about at the next home game. With that many people and that much fervor, we could make a lot of noise. Are you game enough, Greeks?

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Chris Forrer/
Sports columnist
Chris Forrer can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.