This is just the beginning

Josh Johnston

Kent State looked good last night.

Spencer Keith made good decisions, mostly. The defense held Murray State, mostly. Sam Kirkland looked like he switched bodies with Randy Moss during the offseason.

And Eugene Jarvis didn’t get injured. So all in all, a good night.

The football team can walk away from its season-opening 41-10 drubbing of Football Championship Subdivision team Murray State feeling good about themselves.

But not much more than that.

After all, the Racers did go 3-9 last year in the Ohio Valley Conference (How many other teams can you name from the OVC?), and they did come into Dix Stadium with a coach who just made the jump from Division II.

So take this game with a grain of salt. Because now the real work begins.

Next week Kent State flies to Beantown to take on Atlantic Coastal Conference power Boston College. And then there’s that trip into the Happy Valley of the shadow of death to face Penn State and the eternal JoePa.

Will Kirkland be as elusive against BCS bowl-hungry secondaries? Will Keith keep his composure against a faster, bigger and stronger pass rush in front of larger and louder crowds? The 107,282 fans at Beaver Stadium will make Dix Stadium sound like a daycare during naptime.

It’s hard to say what the Flashes will do against higher-caliber teams in the coming weeks. Maybe this year’s team is destined for Kent State’s first bowl appearance in 37 years. Or maybe injuries and disappointments will riddle this team for yet another year. Who knows?

So take this game for what it was. Kirkland made jaw-dropping catches for first downs. Return man Anthony Bowman scampered for his second career kick off return for a touchdown. And Keith made good decisions, mostly.

Doug Martin and his team took care of business last night. They did what they were expected to do (and maybe a bit more) against a team in a lesser division. And maybe more importantly, the team showed 16,535 fans that they’re worth supporting.

But the jury’s still out on what the season holds.

Contact Sports Editor Josh Johnston at [email protected].