Krenzel to Start

Lake Forest - In his first start at Ohio State, quarterback Craig Krenzel directed a victory over Michigan as a 20-year-old sophomore in front of more than 100,000 fans at Ann Arbor in one of college football's greatest rivalry games. So he's unlikely to become paralyzed with fear by the prospect of starting his first pro game for the 1-5 Bears against the 1-5 San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night at Soldier Field in one of the NFL's worst games of the season.

"I don't really get nervous," Krenzel said. "I feel that nervousness is kind of a by-product of being unprepared. I'll be anxious, and I'll be excited to go out there and play, and I'll have some butterflies. But just knowing that with the confidence I have in my teammates -- that we're going to go out and get the job done -- and the confidence I have in myself and that I'll be prepared to play, I won't be nervous."

Offensive coordinator Terry Shea noticed that about Krenzel from Day One.

"He's cut from a different cloth," Shea said. "You could see that from the moment he stepped on the practice field here as a young player. He doesn't show that he's nervous at all. Even when he was stepping into the huddle for the very first time in the preseason, you noticed that. It's one of those intangibles that you don't appreciate until you have him under your wing."

Krenzel got a taste Sunday of what he can expect when he played the second half of the 19-7 loss to the Bucs in Tampa. He wasn't terribly impressed with the experience because he didn't perform very well, completing just 9 of 19 passes for 69 yards with one interception, but he also didn't feel as if he was in over his head.

"It hasn't done much for me personally because we still came up short at the end of the game," he admitted. "But it felt good to get out there."

This week Krenzel will get 80 percent of the first-team practice reps, twice what he received last week, and he believes he'll be more prepared and more comfortable running the offense on game day.

At 6-foot-4 and 228 pounds, Krenzel has ideal stature for an NFL quarterback, but he'll never be compared to John Elway as an athlete or in terms of arm strength. That's why he wasn't drafted until the fifth round, but he'll be wearing a helmet Sunday and throwing passes, while first-rounders Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers will be wearing baseball caps and holding clipboards.

Krenzel has strengths that can't be measured and traits that can't be timed. He has the intangible qualities that helped lead Ohio State to the 2002 national championship and a 14-0 record.

That might be one of the strongest parts of his game.

"I think you could say that," he said. "I think (with) any successful quarterback you have to have those intangibles, the ability just to step in the huddle and call a play. And your other 10 guys have to be able to look you in the eye and know the job is going to get done."

Because descriptions of Krenzel's style invariably begin with intangibles and intelligence, his athleticism sometimes gets overlooked, but he says he doesn't feel slighted.

"I think who you are on the field, you can't change that," he said. "I can't change my style. I can't change the way I play. I can't really change the way I throw the ball. The most important thing is that I feel confident in myself and my abilities to go out on the field this Sunday and help this team win a football game."

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