By Jeremy McDonald
MCMINNVILLE, Ore.– In his weekly press conference on the campus of Linfield College, the second-ranked Wildcats Head Coach Joseph Smith was pleased with how prepared his team was for the rain this past Saturday against the University of Puget Sound.
In the 72-3 victory, Linfield saw running back Spencer Payne rush for 210 yards on 11 carries in the first half alone to go along with Sam Riddle’s three passing touchdown game in the victory.
“I’m imagine he’s sore,” said ‘Cats Head Coach Joseph Smith. “It’s a position that takes a pounding. He didn’t have that many carries, but it was a lot of yardage but he didn’t have that many carries. So it’s not like he carries the ball 50 times.”
Even though Smith is pleased by winning the program’s seventh-straight Northwest Title, and that they have a chance to go undefeated; the overall focus is on Pacific Lutheran University this Saturday in Puyallup, Washington.
“ They expect that obviously,” said Smith about the chance of going undefeated. “They’re no hype at all. Our guys aren’t giddy or excited, they’re pissed off and they want to start playing.
“That’s just the focus (right now).”
For the Lutes, they will be playing with their third starting quarterback in Walker LaVoy, a freshman from Big Timber, Montana.
In his first start versus Lewis and Clark this past Saturday LaVoy went 14-23 with 175 passing yards and two scoring strikes.
But, his second start will be against one of the best defenses in the nation with Linfield; and Smith mentioned how he won’t change his game plan regardless if it’s a junior, a senior or a freshman for that manner.
“That won’t even come into it,” said Smith. “We’ll defend PLU and defend what they do with their scheme. We won’t change anything, new quarterback, old quarterback because PLU is going to run a million different formations, run their little trick plays and we’re going to come after him.
“He’s going to have an uphill battle with a tremendous pass rush and very good secondary, a leathy combination.”
Knowing the depth on his end and in general is important, especially with the secondary, Smith knows that this depth will play a factor come playoff time a few weeks.
“It’s paramount of importance and in terms of most importance will be through a playoff run because of the impacts that your getting throughout a course of a game are much greater because talent is so much better,” he said. “The injury rate will go up the better teams you will play.
“You’ll need depth, that’s what killed us in the past with the expectation of last year.”
But for now, the focus will be on PLU. Kick-off will be 1pm.
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81!
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