McMullen Earns Respect After Second Win

Backup quarterback receives praise after filling in for an injured Craig Krenzel. OSU coach Jim Tressel discusses what could happen next.

Whether Scott McMullen ever takes another snap as the quarterback at Ohio State or not, the fifth-year senior earned a great deal of respect by helping lead the Buckeyes to wins over Bowling Green and Northwestern in the absence of injured starter Craig Krenzel.

"I think everybody has complete confidence in Scott," said OSU senior tight end Ben Hartsock. "He has done nothing but prove he's capable of playing here."

Krenzel suffered an elbow injury in the first half of OSU's triple overtime win over N.C. State on Sept. 13. He has only thrown sparingly since then and was not cleared to play against BGSU and Northwestern.

"The doctor suggested that he not go today," OSU coach Jim Tressel said after the game. "They think he's in good shape when his feet are under him and we have normal motion. But it's those strange plays where you're out running and you're not totally in body alignment. They just didn't think they'd like him to take that next step. But he'll keep coming and he was into the game and he was also into helping Scott and Justin (Zwick), so he played mentally today."

Tressel admitted that Krenzel should be cleared for OSU's next game at Wisconsin on Oct. 11. Such a move could relegate McMullen back to his spot on the sideline.

"I'm not a doctor, but I expect that," Tressel said of Krenzel's impending return.

So far this year, McMullen has hit on 26 of 46 pass attempts (61.9 percent) for 284 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

"I felt pretty good," said McMullen, who was 16 of 25 for 166 yards with one touchdown and one interception against NU. "It was my second full game that I was in there. There were a couple throws I'd like to have back. I thought it was a good experience and the more I play the more I get comfortable."

McMullen admitted he is having the time of his life, even if it's only been for a couple of weeks.

"That's the reason I came here, to play, to get an opportunity like this -- especially the last two weeks, to get in there and play a full game," he said. "It's really been great for me and it's really boosted my confidence in my playing."

Many of McMullen's teammates echoed Hartsock's sentiments in support of McMullen.

"Everybody is very confident in what McMullen can do," tight end Ryan Hamby said. "He's proven it now. He doesn't buckle under pressure. He's smooth and calm. We're just as happy with him as we are with Krenzel. They are equally good leaders."

Tailback Lydell Ross added, "I'm very confident in Scott and what he can do. He has handled the situation he's been put in."

McMullen made his first career start against Illinois in November 2001 in the wake of starter Steve Bellisari's drunken driving arrest. Krenzel relieved McMullen in that game and proceeded to start OSU's next 19 games through the N.C. State game.

"Everybody remembers a couple years ago, he started the Illinois game and there was no surprise about that," Hartsock said. "Everybody on this team knows he is a tremendous talent. For one reason or another, he hasn't quite fit the mold of what Coach Tressel was looking for. Craig has done a great job. But now, Scott has been kind of thrust into the spotlight. He's done a great job. He's excelled."

Tressel was asked whether McMullen's play these last two games may merit splitting time with Krenzel when he returns.

"I guess it would depend on Craig's health obviously and Craig's performance," Tressel said. "You always talk to guys that they don't lose positions due to injury and, if it will make us a better team to play both Craig and Scott, we'll certainly do that."

In fact, Tressel said he prefers to have two competent quarterbacks he can rely upon.

"Most championship teams I've been around have had two quarterbacks who have played significantly," he said. "Last year was unusual. Craig had a lot more snaps, a higher percentage than I've experienced. But it's a bonus for us to have two guys who are good enough to win a championship. That's what Scott is working toward and that's what Justin is working toward and Troy (Smith) and everyone else. We'll just have to see how it unfolds."

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