For college football coaches, close losses are never as simple as they seem.
Even Eastern Michigan's 24-23 loss to Miami (Ohio) Saturday could not be solely blamed on the Eagles' missed extra point with 13 seconds left.
"Coming off the field, there was tremendous disappointment," EMU head coach Jeff Genyk said Monday. "However, by and large, we played well. That was probably our best game. I think about ten plays (determined the outcome)."
Genyk pointed to a dropped punt snap in the first quarter that led to a Redhawk field goal. A few minutes earlier, middle linebacker Daniel Holtzclaw narrowly missed an interception on Miami's opening drive, which would have prevented a touchdown.
Late in the second quarter EMU running back Anthony Sherrell was stopped on the Miami one yard-line on fourth down. Genyk said quarterback Tyler Jones would have scored easily if he had elected to keep the ball on the play. Instead, the Eagles missed out on a chance for a 17-10 lead.
"In order to win a championship, you need to score there," Genyk said. "Anthony was one-on-one with a linebacker and didn't get it in. The ball carrier has to make the play."
Despite the miscues early in the game, EMU outplayed the Redhawks in the second half and would have tied the game with the final PAT.
According to Genyk, even the last-minute breakdown was more complex than it seemed.
"If (snapper) Jerry Topolinski, (holder) A.J. Bennett and (kicker) Andrew (Wellock), if any one of them makes a play, it's good," he said. "The snap wasn't good, but it wasn't bad. (Bennett) double-caught the ball, and Andrew didn't have to hesitate. It was a 33 percent responsibility (for all three players)."
Click on the audio icon above to hear Coach Genyk's comments.
Sherrell Shines: Genyk was unusually candid Monday about Sherrell's status. The senior ran for a season-high 107 yards against Miami on 12 carries, after missing two games due to violations of team rules.
"If Anthony can just do the right thing from Sunday to Friday, I would say so," Genyk said when asked if Sherrell would start against Western Michigan November 5. "But that hasn't been the case. We're in the midst of building a program based on doing things the right way on and off the field."
Sherrell set an EMU record with 1,531 rushing yards in 2003.
Bye Week Plans: With a week off before facing WMU, Genyk said his team will have an extra day of film study and two practices to focus on fundamentals this week. Traditionally, many coaches spend time recruiting during a bye week. But with 64 underclassmen on the roster, the EMU staff opted to devote the extra time to developing younger players' skills.