Friday, November 14, 2008

Central Washington at West Texas A&M

Wildcats Sports Playoff Central
CWU Game Notes
WTAM Game Notes

Central Washington - the Wildcats of Central Washington will face West Texas tomorrow at 1. CWU finished their season 10-1, with their only loss (35-38) coming to FCS Montana. Montana, by the way is the #5 team in both the FCS Coaches Poll and The Sports Network poll. The played two teams that WT also faced - Mesa State (48-14) and Azusa Pacific (36-6).

The Wildcats have been very balanced on offense this year - 359 rushing attempts and 361 passes. The passing game has been murch more effective, generating 305 yards per game. No surprise, given that they have one of DII's top QB's in Mike Reilly. Reilly, a preseason All American, completed 68% of his passes, and threw for 3,286 yds, with 32 TDs and only 5 Ints and a QB rating of 173.26. His top receiver is Johnny Spevak with 82 catches for 1,313 yds and 16 TDs. When they run the ball, Jerome Morris has been their top threat. Morris missed 3 games early in the season, but has returned strong, and has 509 yds and 12 TDs for the season. Reilly, Spevak, TE Jared Bronson, and OL John Gariano were all name first team All-GNAC. Morris, OL Aaron Gilbert, and OL Matt Coffman were named to the second team.

Defensively, the Wildcats have allowed 21.6 pts and 343 yds per game. The run defense has been stingy, giving up just 88 yds per game and 3.0 yds per carry. The pass defense is allowing 255 yds per game and 21 TDs for the year. They have picked off 15 passes. The top three in tackles are LBs Buddy Wood, Chris James, and Adam Bighill who have combined for 219 tackes, 18.5 for losses, 7.5 sacks, with 4 Ints and 6 passes broken up. The secondary is led by Courtney Smith, Jerome Williams, Taylor Breitzman, Jason Gran and J R Jamerson (combined 214 tackles, 9 Ints and 17 passes broken up). The defensive line features Mitch Reffett, Tyrell Nielsen and Andrew Oney who have combined for 32 tackles for losses and 16.5 sacks. Named to the first team All-GNAC team were Reffett, Wood, Smith and Williams. Second teamers include Nilesen, Oney, and Bighill.

They also made the playoffs in 2007 as a member of the now defunct North Central Conference. They defeated Ashland 40-24 in the first round and top seed Nebraska-Omaha 20-17 in the second round, before falling to Grand Valley State 21-41 in the national quarterfinals.

Game outlook
This one of only a few games where the Buffs opponent has a quarterback equal to or better than Keith Null. Mike Reilly is 6'3" 211 lbs, and is one of a handfull of DII QBs on the NFL radar. The numbers he has put up this year are no fluke either - last year in the tough NCC, he threw for 3,386 yds with 30 TDs and 10 Ints. For his career, he has 12,028 yds, 113 TDs and only 39 Ints. And don't look at the CWU schedule and think that puts them at a disadvantage. In 2007, they competed in the NCC and made the playoffs, and went further in the playoffs than any LSC team since 2003. One last thought about the GNAC, remember Chadron from the RMAC had good success against the LSC in recent history.

Their should be lots of balls flung around in Canyon - with two quarterbacks of this caliber, they represent your best chance of winning. Both have numerous targets to throw to, with one WR that stands out. CWU does have a big advantage in turnover margin - +17 to WT's +3. For WT to win, they need to win or at least draw this category. There's not enough on paper to separate these two teams. So we'll go with homefield advantage, and the senior leadership of WT on both sides of the ball stepping up and easing WT past CWU - 38-35.

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