Ypsilanti, MI – Eastern Michigan head football coach Jeff Genyk admits he didn't see Saturday's third quarter collapse against Toledo coming.
After EMU was outscored 28-3 in the third during games against Buffalo and Florida, Genyk tried to correct the problem by installing a halftime segment during last week's practices. Coming out of the break Saturday, Genyk expected an improvement.
"In the locker room at halftime, that's as excited and spirited a locker room as I've seen," Genyk said Tuesday. "I really thought 'Wow, we're fired up to play a great second half here.'"
Instead, Toledo's Bruce Gradkowski found Steve Odom for a 45-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, setting up a touchdown. And, one play after Matt Bohnet threw an interception to end EMU's first possession of the half, Odom beat safety Rontrell Woodruff for a 36-yard touchdown. By the time the quarter ended, Eastern had yielded 21 quick points for the second straight week, while turning the ball over three times on offense.
"(Toledo) put together some decent drives," Genyk said. "But by and large the explosion plays got them points in the third quarter."
In addition to the practice intermission, Genyk plans more changes to try to produce better second-half results.
"We've talked about making a couple of adjustments, potentially, if we win the (coin) toss, deferring so we get the ball first in the third quarter," he said.
But the ultimate adjustment might just be scoring points--any points--on offense to relieve some of the burden on EMU's defense.
"We moved the ball fine from our 20 to (Toledo's) 40- or 35-yard line. We were just unable to get into the red zone or Andrew (Wellock's) striking zone," Genyk said. "When we get into a position to be nearing the scoring zone, let's make sure to get Andrew out there, and get three so there are not any psychological issues.
"We need something positive to stop that fury."
Click the audio icon above to hear Coach Genyk's comments from Tuesday's media luncheon.
According to Genyk, EMU could have stopped Toledo's third-quarter fake punt, which offensive tackle Nick Kaczur ran for 26 yards to set up the Rockets' final score.
"When we saw Kaczur out there, we had some idea," Genyk said. "The two inside (defenders) have to stop that, and they didn't. (Free safety Jerry) Gaines was there, but there was a blocker for him.
"There was a certain level of surprise, just given the fact that they were ahead 35-17 and the ball was near midfield. I thought it was a good call."
The Eagles host Eastern Illinois this week (5:45 p.m. Saturday on 89.1, WEMU), marking the only time this season EMU plays a Division I-AA opponent. Genyk says EMU's players don't need to be reminded of the pitfalls that come with playing a small-time team.
"Our preparation is primarily focused on us. You can look at our history against I-AA teams, and it's either a last-second win or a loss," he said. "So I'm not going to go there with (talking about EIU). It's still about us."
The Panthers are 0-2, having dropped two close games to Ohio Valley conference foes. Wisconsin transfer Matt Schabert is expected to get his first start at quarterback. Last year, Schabert led UW to a late touchdown in a win over Ohio State, and started for the Badgers in a loss to Genyk's Northwestern team.
"In many I-AA programs in the Midwest, the will get a large number of transfers from BCS conferences," Genyk noted. "So don't think you're going in there playing guys who weren't good enough to play Division I football. That's not true. You are playing against former Big 10, Big 12 and ACC players."