Krenzel wants to go out with a win

Senior quarterback Craig Krenzel is just under three weeks away from his final OSU football game, and he is working to go out with a win. Dave Biddle caught up with Craig recently to talk about the game as well as look back on the season.

Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel is a player with a great deal of pride. He has one game left in his college career and you can believe he wants to go out in style.

Some might consider a repeat trip to the Fiesta Bowl nothing more than a consolation game, but for Krenzel and the seniors, it's their last chance to leave their mark on the program.

"It's very important to us to go out with a win," Krenzel said. "With the landscape of college football today, there might be only one bowl everyone cares about – or maybe two this year – but for us this is a huge game. We've accomplished a lot over our careers and I know this group of seniors want to go out on a high note."

Before the Buckeyes found out they would be returning to Tempe, a trip to the Orange Bowl and a rematch with Miami looked like the destination. The players were hoping to get another crack at the Hurricanes, to prove that last year was not a fluke, but they're also excited about the Kansas State matchup.

"Really, for most of us, going into this bowl situation not knowing who it would be… we knew we'd either be getting a rematch – same team, new venue – or, we'd be in the same venue against a new team," Krenzel said. "So, either way, you're not really getting a totally new experience and there's pros and cons about both.

"This way, we get to play a team from a conference that our class hasn't played. We haven't played a Big 12 team in the last five years and that will be a great experience to play someone we haven't played before. And like we've said, if there's a bowl to repeat, from what we saw last year, it's the Fiesta Bowl. They took great care of us.

"At the same time, if we would've had to go to Miami to play against Miami, it would have been a great game. It would have given them a chance to, possibly, prove that last year was a fluke and it would have given us chance to prove that last year wasn't a fluke and we belonged on top after that game. But, we don't have that opportunity."

Krenzel wants just two things out of the repeat trip to Tempe: good weather and a win. In other words, the same things as last year.

"They say we're staying in the same place, the same resort," he said. "Obviously, looking forward to the same weather. Beyond that, we're just hoping we can walk away with the same type of outcome we had last year."

Krenzel, who was recently selected as the Draddy Award winner (AKA: Academic Heisman), was asked if he has sought out advice about how to combine medical school, with a possible career in the NFL. One reporter suggested former Buckeye tight end John Frank.

"No, not really," Krenzel said. "My goal and my plan right now is to pursue a career in football as long as I possibly can and when that's all over, re-evaluate and probably go to medical school then. Even if I am fortunate enough to play in the NFL for 10-12 years, I'd probably still go back to med school, just because it's something that I've always wanted to do."

Is NFL Europe, or the Canadian League, an option if the NFL doesn't work out right away?

"Well, I'd probably just give it the best I can in the NFL and if they kick me out and they don't want me there, go to med school," Krenzel said.

As for the Draddy Award, Krenzel says he had a memorable time in New York at the National Football Foundation/College Hall of Fame 46th Annual Awards dinner, held at the Waldorf-Astoria.

"It was nice," he said. "It was a really good time. The guys we were with, the other scholarship recipients, we had a great time. It was a great group of guys. From Division I-A, all the way down to the NAIA."

Krenzel has received so many academic scholarships, it's hard to keep track. But at least they won't "expire" anytime soon.

"Most of them are good for about three years," Krenzel said. "If you apply for extensions, and you're playing football, or whatever, and you express a desire to continue your education beyond that, they'll usually give you an extension."

The Buckeye quarterback has not had much time to study Kansas State's defense just yet.

"No, I really haven't seen much film on them at all. I watched, as of now, just the first quarter of the Oklahoma State game. I haven't had a chance to watch anything else yet."

Krenzel was asked to evaluate OSU's season as a whole, considering the Maurice Clarett distractions, other distractions and injuries.

"There were some distractions that we had to deal with as a team, but I would say there was not a single thing that was non-football related that stopped us from winning a game," Krenzel said. "The only reason we lost a couple games this year is because we didn't play well enough to win those two times.

"With that said, obviously, it was our goal to try and go back and repeat as national champions, to win another one. To be on our way to New Orleans right now. But that didn't happen; we weren't able to meet our goal."

On a personal level, Krenzel didn't play as well as he would have liked this year, but he was also banged up for the majority of the season, starting with an elbow injury in the N.C State game.

He finished the regular season with 1,851 passing yards (55.9 completion percentage), 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He added 234 rushing yards (2.3) and three scores.

"Personally, dealing with an injury or two and being banged up a little bit, not playing as well as I would have liked at times – personally and as an offensive unit – it hasn't been a great year," Krenzel said. "But that said, we're still 10-2. We're still going to a BCS game. We're still playing a team that just got done beating the best team in the country pretty solidly and it's still going to be a great opportunity for us."

Although he expected more out of himself, Krenzel's 2003 statistics aren't all that different than his '02 numbers. Last year, the Sterling Heights, Mich. native threw for 2,110 yards (59.4), 12 TDs and seven picks. He also played in all 14 games, compared with just 10 so far this year.

We've all heard how hard it is to repeat as national champions. The Buckeyes knew going into this season that it would be a difficult task with everyone in the nation gunning for them, but maybe they didn't know just how difficult it would be.

"I don't know if I'd say that," Krenzel said. "We knew what we were in for. We feel we're a team that, no matter who we're playing, no matter what kind of season we had the previous year, we're going to get everyone's best. It's regardless whether we're national champs, or we're coming off a 6-6 year, we feel we're going to get everyone's best and we have to be our best if we want to win."

The Buckeyes hit the practice field Friday and they worked on basics for the most part. However, they were able to mix in a little K-State preparation for the first time.

"It was basically some fundamentals (Friday)," Krenzel said. "Same thing we've been doing the past week or so, with a little bit towards the end geared towards some looks of Kansas State. Obviously, we haven't had a chance to prepare for them very much up to this point, so we don't have a chance to go against a Kansas State look all practice, but we had about five periods of their looks and as we have more time to study film and see what we're possibly going to get, practices will become more and more geared towards their looks, as opposed to fundamentals."

One interesting thing that head coach Jim Tressel is doing at the end of some bowl practices is hold full-contact scrimmages with the freshmen and sophomores. They go for about 20 minutes and it's a time for these scout team players to prove something to the coaches.

"We didn't see their scrimmage (Friday) because we were down running," Krenzel said. "But there's no doubt how important that is for them," he said. "If you ask any coach, probably the No. 1 benefit of playing in a bowl game is the fact that its an extra spring practice for your freshmen, and redshirt freshmen, and sophomores who aren't seeing as much playing time. They get an extra, however many days of practice that it is until you call it quits 'till the spring."

Krenzel's top receiver – Michael Jenkins – needs just 54 yards to break David Boston's record as the career receiving yards leader at OSU (2,855). We asked Krenzel how much pride he takes in something like that.

"You know, I don't know that I take a whole lot of pride in it, but obviously I'm very excited for Mike and I'll try to do whatever I can do to get him the ball, within the scheme and my progressions," he said. "Mike's definitely a guy that deserves it. He's a guy that has played for three years now and has been recognized as one of the best receivers in our conference and in my opinion, one of the best receivers in the country. But he's a guy that also comes out to practice every day working hard and trying to get better, trying to do everything he can to make himself a better player for this team. And with that in mind, he's more deserving of a record like that than anyone I can think of."

With all of the great receivers that have played at OSU over the years, it's a huge accomplishment for Jenkins if he can pull it off.

"Oh, there's no doubt," Krenzel said. "You can argue that some of the greatest that have played the college, or pro level, have come through this university. For him to say that he's the all-time leader in receiving yardage, it's a great accomplishment for him and it speaks volumes as to what kind of player he is."

As for tight end Ben Hartsock, he could probably have a successful career in politics if he wanted to. One reporter even suggested Hartsock would be a good candidate for governor of Ohio many years down the line.

"Ben's one of the most loyal, sincere people that I've ever met," Krenzel said. "I would say he's my best friend down here. He's a guy that I can always count on.

"As far as what he means to this team, he's a guy that works as hard as he can every day, trying to get better, but he's also a guy that always brings fun and kind of a light mood and spirit to everything we do. Sometimes he goes a little overboard, but that's something you need every once in a while.

"I definitely don't see him as a politician one day, but I could be wrong."

Krenzel of course is recovering from an injured shoulder, but should be "all systems go" for the Fiesta Bowl.

"The shoulder's good; it's feeling good," he said. "It will easily be 100 percent by Jan. 2."

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