Many of Eastern Michigan's goals for this football season can be measured tangibly.
So when two of the Eagles' most attainable benchmarks--winning the Michigan MAC Championship and finishing the season with a winning record--slipped out of reach after Saturday's 44-36 loss to Western Michigan, the team was forced to revise its aspirations.
At his weekly media luncheon Monday, head coach Jeff Genyk said his team must focus on an important, though less glamorous, objective heading into their final two games. The Eagles host Ball State Saturday (5:45 p.m. on 89.1, WEMU) before closing the season at Buffalo Nov. 19.
"Moving forward, we're talking about the 15 seniors (having) a chance to leave your mark here," Genyk said. "(The 2004) senior class found a way to win four MAC games and go 4-7. To win five games would be a good building block for the program. This program is on a journey for a championship. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when."
Ball State started the season 1-6, including blowout losses to Iowa, Auburn, Boston College and Toledo. But the Cardinals have scored impressive wins at Northern Illinois and over Akron in the last two weeks, and they enter Saturday's game ahead of EMU in the Mid-American Conference West Division standings.
"Ball State presents an offense that is very efficient," Genyk said. "They're playing with a lot of confidence."
Click on the audio icon above to hear Coach Genyk's comments.
Clock Management: Genyk acknowledged Monday that he told the EMU defense to concede a short touchdown run late in Saturday's game. He wanted EMU to get the ball back with enough time remaining for a game-tying drive.
"If you're down by one point and they've got the ball, there is some discussion about 'Is it wise to let them score versus running out the clock?,' he said. "Once (WMU) had the ball second-and-goal on the four, we instructed the team to let them score."
Genyk's face turned to agony as he described Bronco running back Mark Bonds' three-yard run on the ensuing play.
"Unfortunately, he fell down ... at the one-inch line," Genyk said, estimating the Eagles lost 25 to 30 seconds before Bonds scored on third down. "It was disappointing because I really felt that they could not stop us (on offense). If we had 58 seconds and a timeout, we were going to find a way to get into the end zone and then have another chance at a two-point conversion (to tie the game)."
Senior Sendoff: Fifteen EMU seniors will make their final home appearance Saturday. Only seven of the seniors are regular starters, but the class has earned two consecutive wins over Ball State .
"When you're dealing with a large group of seniors, any type of success is important, because of all the losing the seniors have endured," Genyk said. "To have had success (against BSU) in the past could help us mentally."