Krenzel Expects 'No Limitations' At Wisconsin

OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel said he is just about 100 percent as the team's first big road test at Wisconsin looms on Saturday. He joined head coach Jim Tressel at the coach's weekly press luncheon. Other topics discussed included injuries to Alex Stepanovich and Darrion Scott, the offense, the environment at Camp Randall Stadium and a possible offensive line rotation.

After a weekend off, the third-ranked Ohio State football team is set to return to action Saturday at No. 23 Wisconsin (9 p.m., ESPN).

OSU head coach Jim Tressel, punter B.J. Sander and quarterback Craig Krenzel all met with the media this afternoon to discuss the team's first road trip in the 2003 season.

"I think we have made some progress," Tressel said. "We had a light workout last Tuesday, where we studied the Northwestern videotape. On Wednesday and Thursday, we had two good padded practices. We were able to work a lot on our inside drills, something the teams we've been facing have not been doing a lot against us.

"That gave our running backs and offensive linemen and our attack force players on defense to get more work than they've been getting in that phase of the game.

"Friday was a lighter workout and the guys that could got to sneak out and go see their high school teams play. Then we took Saturday and Sunday off. Yesterday, we were in pads and we will work hard today and Wednesday. On Thursday, we will taper back and prepare for our weekend in Madison, Wis."

The team will fly to Madison Friday afternoon.

On Monday, Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said OSU had the option to veto the evening start time. But Tressel indicated he never looked at the late start as a burden.

"I don't remember it being discussed," Tressel said. "It was brought forward to us as an opportunity to play in prime time on a Saturday night. I felt it was a great opportunity and it should be a tremendous atmosphere. I think our guys will enjoy the change of pace to have 12 games and have two of them be in the evening.

"I think we gain as a conference and as an institution by playing at night. We just say let's go play. Tell us what time and we'll see how we do."

Krenzel indicated he is nearly 100 percent and, as things stand, is set to start the game on Saturday. He missed OSU's games against Bowling Green and Northwestern after suffering an elbow injury in the Sept. 13 game against N.C. State.

"It's feeling well," he said. "I started throwing really last week. I feel I have no limitations right now. I've been throwing the ball well. I was a little rusty because I had not thrown the last couple of weeks. But yesterday, I thought I threw the ball pretty well in practice.

"Right now, I'm just feeling like I'm getting ready to play a good football team in Wisconsin."

Krenzel indicated he would wear an elbow sleeve on the sideline to keep the elbow warm between series.

He hopes the extra time will pay off for the Buckeyes at Wisconsin.

"There is definitely room for improvement," Krenzel said. "From my standpoint, I look at this as a chance to get my timing back with the guys. I think the guys up front have done a good job of being more focused on their assignments."

Tressel was asked if he expected Krenzel to be under any limitations on Saturday.

"I asked him if he had a limit on how many passes he could throw and he said the limit was 50," Tressel said, eliciting laughter from the media. "He said his limit running the ball would probably be 25 carries. That's 75 plays.

"But I don't think there will be any limit. Now, if all of a sudden, he is not feeling as well as he should, then we'll act on that.

"But going into the game we expect everyone to do everything they are capable of because that's what it's going to take."

Tressel was asked about the health of center Alex Stepanovich and defensive tackle Darrion Scott, who were each nursing ankle sprains.

"I would say that Alex will probably be back," Tressel said. "He is well over 90 percent and we like to think he will be over 100 percent by Saturday. But there is a big difference between doing your rehab in the weight room and on a stationary bike and hitting against someone and them hitting against you.

"I think you need to make that transition. I expect him to be ready to go.

"Darrion Scott, I would put him in the questionable category. I wouldn't call him doubtful, but I don't know if he will be at 100 percent come game time. A lot of times with those injuries, the last couple of days leading up to the game there is some great healing that goes. He will definitely be with us. Exactly how much he will play, we don't know."

In previous weeks, Tressel had praised sophomore Nick Mangold for the job he had done in replacing the injured Stepanovich. The coach was asked what rotation might transpire with Stepanovich back at center.

"Nick will play center when he is in the ball game," Tressel said. "Alex will play center and guard. I think we can expect to see obviously Shane (Olivea), Adrien (Clarke) and Alex probably play a significan amount of snaps.

"Then, Nick Mangold, Bryce Bishop, Mike Kne, Adam Olds (and Rob Sims) would probably be in the rotation. That is seven or eight guys. That, I think, is the way I see things unfolding."

Tressel admitted that OSU needs to improve in the running game if it expects to contend.

"If we're going to win the Big Ten championship, we need to run the football better than we've been running it -- that's not a secret," he said. "If you look at results in college and professional football, very seldom are they not indicative of who can effectively run the ball.

"The teams we're getting ready to play -- starting with Wisconsin -- play the run very well. We must improve running the football."

More From Craig

Krenzel answered questions on more topics, including:

* He was asked about talk whether this game -- with the defending national champions coming in -- could be the biggest in the history of Camp Randall Stadium.

"I hadn't heard that," he said. "I'm sure it's been said. Our number one game is any game we are playing that weekend. We don't look at it as an important game from a historical standpoint.

"Now I think with the winning streak and the success we've had, I can see that. But at the same time none of that stuff matters. The only thing that matters when the game starts is who's on the field, what schemes you're running and who executes and who holds on to the ball.

"We know for a fact we're not playing as well as we can or should. This weekend presents a challenge."

* He was asked about already having a win in Madison, last year's 19-14 decision under his belt.

"We did not turn the ball over once and we had a tremendous boost from our punting unit," he said. "Andy Groom had a heck of a game. He averaged right around 50 yards per punt net.

"Then, we forced them to take a snap on a punt. They couldn't get a punt off and we got good field position and we took advantage of it.

"We made some good plays. I through a slant to Michael Jenkins for a touchdown. We threw a 50-yard post route to Chris Gamble and he kind of stumbled or else that would have been a touchdown. Obviously, the third-down post route to Michael was a big play."

* On having no complaints on being sent to UW two years in a row.

"I think it is a little odd, but that's just the way the schedule worked out," he said. "I think if it was another team and a different stadium, you might hear some guys complaining about it. But I know most of the guys love playing at Camp Randall. It's a good stadium. They have one of the best crowds in the country and one of the best student sections we've seen in any stadium."

* On getting Gamble over on offense.

"If he comes over on offense, we might have to limit the plays we run," Krenzel said. "He's not in any position to know the entire offense. Any time Chris Gamble is on the field he brings that extra dimension. He can make something happen with the ball in his hands. With that in mind, I'd love to see him on our side of the ball."

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