Idaho Game Crucial for EMU Confidence
Ypsilanti, MI – For Eastern Michigan's football team, the best way to get rid of the disappointment of last Saturday's 31-28 loss to Division I-AA Eastern Illinois is to beat Idaho this weekend.
"If you're looking back, it is difficult (to be positive)," head coach Jeff Genyk said Tuesday. "If you're looking forward, this is a game we can win, a game we should win, and we have to go out and take that victory.
"We have some confident football players. I think we have a confident offense ... but we don't have a confident team. We don't know, at this point in time, that we are going to go out and take that win. We didn't do that against Eastern Illinois. We allowed it to be taken from us."
The Eagles led 14-0 Saturday after Eric Delauriers' first-quarter touchdown catch, but allowed 24 unanswered points before mounting a fourth-quarter comeback that ultimately fell short.
Genyk said his staff will implement some major changes to bolster EMU's defensive front prior to Saturday's game against the Vandals (1:45 p.m. on 89.1 WEMU).
"We need to do some more movement and more scheming in order to break some of the (defensive linemen) away from the blocks," he said. "Not being able to stop the run late in the game was obviously something that was very difficult to deal with, and it's something that is a huge priority for our defense and our program."
EMU's offense used a pair of long pass plays, including the touchdown to Deslauriers, to build its lead Saturday, but relied more on the running game during the second and third quarters in response to an EIU defensive adjustment. The ground game keyed four drives to inside the Panthers' 25 yard line, but EMU managed just two field goals on those drives.
"Our offense, which has been excellent in the scoring area, settled for three field goal attempts instead of punching it in," Genyk said. "That was something where we felt like we just missed it right there."
Click on the audio icon above to hear Coach Genyk's comments from Tuesday's media luncheon.
Injury Report: Tailbacks Anthony Sherrell (bruised quad) and Pierre Walker (high ankle sprain) remain day-to-day. Genyk said Sherrell will practice this week, though he mildly aggravated his injury during Saturday's game.
"We'll see how (Sherrell) practices this week," Genyk said.
Walker started in place of Sherrell against Eastern Illinois, and gained 52 yards on 18 carries. He also scored his first touchdown. Sherrell came in after Walker's third quarter injury, and led the Eagles with 55 yards on nine carries.
Familiar Face: Idaho junior Michael Harrington will be under center Saturday for the Vandals. Harrington's older brother, Detroit Lions quarterback Joey, is expected to attend the game. Michael has thrown for 450 yards through four games, including five touchdowns and two interceptions.
"They're allowing Michael to make some plays in the play-action game," Genyk said. "And he throws the deep ball pretty well."
The Vandals' bruising running backs are also of concern to Genyk. True freshmen Jayson Bird (6-foot, 220 pounds) and Rolly Lumbala (6-2, 241) have gained 400 combined yards this season.
Of Note: With Idaho entering Saturday's game 0-4, EMU is preparing for its fifth straight winless opponent. Eastern Illinois and Toledo were both 0-2 prior to playing EMU. Florida and Buffalo each opened their season against the Eagles.