Edelman experienced growing pains Saturday

Jonas Fortune

Julian Edelman is a gifted athlete. Kent State hasn’t seen many players as elusive as the junior quarterback from California. He often gets something out of nothing as he slithers and slides through linebackers and defensive ends alike.

But Julian Edelman is not a gifted quarterback … yet.

That’s why Kent State coach Doug Martin gave Edelman strict orders before Saturday’ s romp over Delaware State: Don’ t run the ball!

“(Edelman) actually had to stay in the pocket and make things happen,” Martin said. “This is probably the first time in his career he has had negative yards rushing, but I think it will help him grow as a quarterback. And that’s why I did it.”

Was Edelman uncomfortable with it? Yes.

Did he struggle with it? Of course.

Will he be better because of it? Without a doubt.

When Martin speaks of Edelman it is with the warming glow a father has for his son. He’ ll tell you how Edelman has changed the landscape and the culture of Kent State football. How Edelman has brought a new attitude and mentality to a fledgling program that has rarely known what winning feels like.

For these reasons, Martin had to put Edelman through some growing pains Saturday.

Although his first-half stats weren’t horrible — he was 11-22 for 106 yards with a touchdown and an interception — Edelman really struggled. He missed a wide-open Tom Sitko in the end zone and threw at least four balls that looked as if they could easily been intercepted.

“I took his little toy away — I wouldn’t let him run around like Fran Tarkenton,” Martin jokingly said.

But Edelman persevered and found a way to make it work. He found Shawn Bayes for a spectacular touchdown catch, hit Rashad Tukes for a touchdown, and then found Eugene Jarvis for a touchdown.

When it was all said and done, Edelman found seven different Flashes as he spread the ball all around Dix Stadium.

Not too shabby for a scrambling quarterback.

It wasn’ t spectacular — he finished 18-of-33 for 267 yards and three touchdowns. But Martin isn’t looking for spectacular out of Edelman right now. He just wanted him effective Saturday, so he can be spectacular later.

When Edelman masters the passing game — yes, it’s a matter of when, not if — Kent State will be dangerous. Defenses will not be able to put eight men in the box to stop the running game.

Growing up isn’ t always easy, as Edelman showcased Saturday, but as Martin knows, it’ s for the best.

Contact sports editor Jonas Fortune at [email protected].