Ypsilanti, Mich. – Eastern Michigan head coach Jeff Genyk had only positive things to say about his team's play Saturday at Florida ... until the last minute of the first half.
"Our players realize playing 29 minutes well against (Florida) is a plus," he said Monday at his weekly media luncheon. "But that still leaves 31 minutes."
EMU used a 91-yard opening drive and an onside kick to keep the ball for most of the first quarter Saturday. And, after the Gators took a 21-3 lead midway through the second, EMU turned in another long drive, which culminated in Eric Deslauriers' tackle-breaking catch-and-run for a 22-yard touchdown.
That's when EMU lost its sharpness, according to Genyk.
Florida's Chad Jackson returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to the EMU 33 yard line. Three plays, and 47 seconds, later, the Gators scored, and led 28-10 at the half. Florida tacked on three more touchdowns in the third quarter, which were especially disappointing to Genyk.
"We have to continue to coach the finishing of everything," Genyk said, referring to his team's poor third-quarter performances in each of its first two games. "So (this week) we'll have a little halftime in practice. We'll take them back into the locker room for seven or eight minutes, and then practice like it's the second half. We have to play better in the third."
Audio from this week's media luncheon is not available. Check back next week for Coach Genyk's comments following the Toledo game.
Prepping for the Rockets
This week's opponent, Toledo (5:45 p.m. Saturday on 89.1, WEMU), has turned plenty of heads around the MAC, but for the wrong reasons. The Rockets, preseason favorites to win the West Division, have given up 126 points in their two games--63 each in losses at Minnesota and Kansas.
"They're still a quality opponent and a quality program," Genyk said. "It's a program that we are aspiring to be like."
Genyk says both Minnesota and Kansas are better than perceived this year, and that Toledo's losses do not indicate a decline in the UT program. As an assistant at Northwestern last year, Genyk's team faced both the Jayhawks and the Gophers.
"I know firsthand that those teams are good," he said.
The Rockets high-powered offense is mostly intact from last season, though the defense has undergone some changes. Just five starters return, and all four defensive line starters from a year ago are gone.
LBs getting some help
Several times against Florida, EMU's outside linebackers, Kevin Harrison and Keyvon Barbee, lined up against Gator receivers. Toledo features several three- and four-receiver formations, which will likely result in similar mismatches this week.
"We are a little short as far as quantity of defensive backs," Genyk explained. "We believe in keeping our best eleven on the field. We never ask (an outside linebacker) to play man-to-man with a wide receiver. We ask him to disrupt the receiver early and then drop into a zone."