Sunday, August 31, 2003
Forget Clarett, Krenzel's the main man
QB's outstanding play makes you forget what's-his-name
COLUMBUS - Maurice Clarett stood on the Ohio State sideline in red sweatpants Saturday night, and a gray T-shirt that accented his shoulders and neck, which together are the size of Rhode Island. Clarett is suspended without pay, until the authorities decide which book to throw at him.
And that is all we're going to say about Clarett, the best player the Buckeyes don't really need. Now, if someone were to offer Craig Krenzel an illegal beaker or a free centrifuge, OSU would really be in trouble.
We're going to have to stop talking about the Buckeyes quarterback as if he were majoring in, oh, molecular genetics, and start chatting him up as the heart and soul of the defending national champions. Describing Krenzel as an egghead somehow demeans his ability as a player. And that ain't right.
Against No. 17 Washington Saturday night, Krenzel made coach Jim Tressel's supposedly right-of-Reagan offense look positively inspired in a 28-9 season-opening victory. The Buckeyes' meat-and-potatoes reputation lives on defense; they handled Huskies Heisman hopeful quarterback Cody Pickett and their flawless tackling eliminated any notion Washington might have had of running the ball.
The Bucks play bass drum football on defense. Boom and boom.
But an unleashed Krenzel makes for something altogether different. There wasn't a seam in the Washington secondary that he didn't plunder. On Ohio State's first TD drive, Krenzel sliced a hole in the Washington zone like he was cutting a diamond, 37 yards down the middle to Drew Carter.
Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel (16) dives into the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter.
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Then, with 2:51 left in the first quarter, Krenzel soft-shoed his way into the end zone from 23 yards out, on a scramble. A flat-footed Huskies cornerback named Derrick Johnson hesitated at the Washington 10-yard line, apparently believing Krenzel would protect himself and slide to a stop.
That made it 14-0 before Keith Jackson's first "Whoa, Nelly." Krenzel added another scrambling TD run, an 11-yarder with 11 seconds left in the first half that concluded with a Lambeau Leap. You thought Michael Vick could run.
We should have predicted some of this. Lost in the Summer of No Love for Clarett was the notion that Ohio State went 3-0 when it was Maurice-less last year.
Something else: Running backs are rarely better than the people who block for them. The five linemen who started the Fiesta Bowl for the Buckeyes started against Washington. They opened doors for Clarett's understudies, Maurice Hall and Lydell Ross (101 yards between them) and allowed Krenzel time enough to study for a midterm.
Washington's hope was that it could run a little against the OSU defense. It couldn't. In the second half, the Huskies stopped pretending they had a running game, lining up five wide receivers nearly every down, as if this were flag football in gym class.
Problem was, their passing wasn't much better. Pickett threw for 255 yards, few of them relevant. Last year, Pickett had more passing yards than anyone in Pacific 10 history, a nice stat in a pass-happy league. On Saturday, he looked like the general who charged up Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg.
The Buckeyes led 21-0 at half. Maurice Clarett stood waving a towel. He seemed to enjoy it. And another pretty Pac-10 team got kicked in the grass.
BENGALS / NFL
Foley, Wilson cut in Bengals' purge
Lewis hints cuts likely to run deep
Who will stay? Who will go?
Peppers watches fame grow beyond Carolina
Redskins take risk, keep two quarterbacks
No. 2 Buckeyes put on a No. 1 performance
Daugherty: Forget Clarett, Krenzel's the main man
UC back had no breaks, but he was never broken
Rocky start for Roethlisberger
UConn dominates in opener
Wildcats defense has new attitude
Top 25 roundup: No. 8 USC shuts down No. 6 Auburn
Scores, how the Top 25 fared
Elder run over at Ryle festival
St. X announces its presence
Highlands' defense steady in win
Saturday's other games
Sorry, Elder, it's us, not you
For Ryle Festival, less is more
Prep sports results
REDS / BASEBALL
Sunday's Game: Cardinals 5, Reds 0
Big dreams earn tough challenge for Miley
Injury can't keep Reds' Berry away
Saturday's Game: Cardinals 6, Reds 3
Notes: Wagner still adjusting to majors
MLB power rankings
Marlins lose Lowell for the season
NL: Pavano's 10 K's spark Marlins
AL: Pettitte outpitches Pedro
Champions Tour rolling into town
Shootout looms in Tradition
Distracted Capriati wins in 3 sets
Roddick refrains from war of words
Youngsters combine to dominate Busch race
Darlington promises to be a rougher ride
Junqueira stays ahead of CART pack
In Rome captures RD Pepsi Bassinet
ENQUIRER PAGE TWO
Moeller's Brackman mulls playing 2 sports in college
Page Two power rankings
Longtime friends help NKU succeed
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