EMU Rides Deslauriers, Confidence, into Final Two
Ypsilanti, MI – Of all the outstanding performances in Saturday's four-overtime thriller between Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan, Eric Deslauriers' stood out.
EMU's sophomore wide receiver repeatedly broke away from double coverage to get open and make game-extending plays for the Eagles. He finished the marathon game with 14 catches for 207 yards, four touchdowns, and a two-point conversion. Deslauriers leads the nation, averaging 127.9 receiving yards per game.
"It's a factor of Eric being a very good route runner and then (quarterback) Matt (Bohnet) putting it on the money and always giving him a chance," head coach Jeff Genyk said Tuesday at his weekly media luncheon. "Of course, he always has a height advantage."
Opposing teams have repeatedly deployed extra help to contain the 6-foot-4 Deslauriers. But the strategy, which Genyk expects to continue this Saturday in a Mid-American Conference crossover against Kent State (3:45 Saturday on 89.1, WEMU), has not worked.
"Defensive coordinators make adjustments week to week," he said. "So they're double-covering nobody all year, and all of the sudden, you're asking your kids to double-cover this guy. In the heat of the battle, it's difficult to make major adjustments to stop one particular player."
While the Eagles gained momentum with Saturday's 61-58 win, Kent State is riding a two-game winning streak, and boasts the MAC's second-rated total defense. Genyk said he expects the carry-over effect from Saturday's games to be small.
"For us, we'll be coming off tremendous confidence, but I don't expect it to be a major factor in the game," he said. "Hopefully our seniors will have the type of leadership that's required so we don't have a letdown."
Click on the audio icon above to hear Coach Genyk's comments.
Winning the West: At 4-2 in MAC play, EMU still has a chance to share the West Division title. Here's how:
EMU must beat Kent State and Northern Illinois Nov. 20 to finish 6-2.
Northern Illinois must lose to Toledo tonight, and at EMU, which would leave the Huskies with a 6-2 league record.
Toledo and Bowling Green would also finish 6-2, if the Rockets beat NIU, BGSU loses to Marshall, and the Falcons beat Toledo in the regular season finale.
For EMU, the biggest obstacle is beating Northern Illinois, a team currently ranked No. 22 in the coaches poll. If the Eagles can win out, Genyk says, everything else may fall into place.
"It's not that far-fetched," he said. "6-2 could win this league."
If all four teams tie at 6-2, the Eagles would be shut out of the MAC Championship game because of their losses to BGSU and Toledo.
Wellock on the Short List: Kicker Andrew Wellock was named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award for the second straight year. The sophomore is third in the nation in field goals per game, with 18 conversions in 20 attempts on the season. Saturday, he made four of five field goal attempts. Wellock's 90 percent success rate is the best among NCAA kickers with more than 14 attempts.