Early results nothing to get overly concerned about

Published 12:38 am Monday, September 7, 2009

This could be the start of something big, even if it started as something of a disappointment.

There was a great deal of excitement as the college football season got underway this past weekend. Expectations are always high, and those first games do a lot toward improving fans’ hopes or diminishing them.

But as a wise coach once told me, don’t get too high over a win, and don’t get too low over a loss.

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For instance, Ohio State was favored in the pre-season to win the Big Ten and they were sixth in the AP poll. The Buckeyes escaped Navy 31-27 and the doubts began.

Let’s be realistic. Navy isn’t a bad team. They’re a dangerous team, and to open the season with them is tough. A few years ago Air Force — which also runs the option offense — almost beat Tennessee in Knoxville when a two-point conversion failed.

Marshall was taken to the wire by FCS opponent Southern Illinois and, naturally, the Herd was questioned about how good it really is by columnists covering the team.

FCS? Hey, those teams in what was formerly called I-AA can cause problems. Southern Illinois has a good team and a real nice quarterback. It’s difficult to operate in mid-season form in an opener, especially against the No. 7 ranked team like SIU.

Just ask Iowa, Virginia and Duke who played FCS teams.

Duke lost 24-16 to No. 2 ranked Richmond. Virginia was handled by No. 14 William & Mary, and Iowa needed to block a field goal — twice — in the final seconds to escape No. 4 ranked Northern Iowa.

And don’t forget what Appalachian State did to Michigan a few years ago.

Actually, Marshall’s offense proved to be much better than expected and they did it without starting running back Darius Marshall who was suspended for the first game.

The defense was disappointing down the stretch, but for nearly three quarters they kept an explosive SIU offense bottled up. A fumble led to the Salukis’ first touchdown and two kickoffs that went out of bounds in the second half gave SIU the ball on the 40 and led to touchdowns.

Marshall will have to step up this week. The Herd goes to Virginia Tech for its second game and the Hokies have one of the hardest places in the country to win if you’re the visiting team.

But there was something else that wise coach once told me. You make your most improvement from game one to game two.

It’s one game. There are 11 more, so try and relax. That wise coach ought to know what he’s talking about. He’s won 356 games in his 40 years at Ironton and St. Joseph.

–– Sinatra ––

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.