QB Craig Krenzel

2002 Statistics

Coach: Jim Tressel
21-5, 2 years
2002 Record: 14-0
at Cincinnati WON 23-19
at Northwestern WON 27-16
at Wisconsin WON 19-14
at Purdue WON 10-6
at Illinois WON 23-16 (OT)
Miami FL WON 31-24 (2OT)

2002 Final Rankings
AP-1, Coaches-1, BCS-2

2003 Outlook

The Buckeyes minor concerns on special teams and defense won't prevent the OSU offense from reaching the next level. This sums up the Buckeyes and how completely primed they are for another (dominating) championship run. It'll be a reversal of last season, when the Bucks' crushing defense carried the unspectacular offense; this year, the Bucks will be ready and able to pound on offense and compensate if 2003's defense is slightly-less-intimidating.

The biggest factor keeping Ohio State from repeating is simply the law of averages - they were lucky as the season unfolded, edging Cincinnati in non-conference play, just holding off Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue in Big Ten action, needing overtime to beat Illinois, surviving a bid for a winning Michigan score on the final play of the game, and of course outlasting Miami in double overtime in the classic Fiesta Bowl. That's enough good fortune to last any team a decade or so, and logic if not superstition says the Buckeyes are about due to drop a few of these nail-biters. Such luck is next-to-impossible to access two consecutive seasons. Domination on defense assures championships, something this team lacks. But, conversely, those close ones built character reserves this squad can use when needed.

Problem is, with the talent on hand, many games this year won't be close enough for luck to make much difference. Next year … a whole different deal as the Bucks will have to deal with wholesale graduation losses, but none of that matters now. Ohio State should steamroll through the Big Ten, with only Michigan looking like a threat. But parity and illogic have reigned in this always-morphing conference, as Ohio State wasn't on many 2002 maps (16th in our 2002 Preseason Top 25 until Clarett emerged). Look for them to keep winning until stopped. Oh, those 18-22 year olds and their unpredictable nature.

Projected 2003 record: 10-2
WR Bam Childress
LB A.J. Hawk
WR Santonio Holmes
QB - 4 DL - 5
RB - 5 LB - 3.5
WR - 4 DB - 4
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Craig Krenzel, 249-148-7, 2110 yds., 12 TD's

Rushing: Maurice Clarett, 222 att., 1237 yds., 16 TD's

Receiving: Michael Jenkins, 61 rec., 1076 yds., 6 TD's

Scoring: Mike Nugent, 25-28 FG, 45-46 PAT, 120 pts.

Punting: none

Kicking: Mike Nugent, 25-28 FG, 45-46 PAT, 120 pts.

Tackles: Dustin Fox, 84 tot., 67 solo

Sacks: Darrion Scott, 8.5 sacks

Interceptions: Chris Gamble, 4 for 40 yds.

Kickoff returns: Maurice Hall, 19 ret., 22.8 avg.

Punt returns: Chris Gamble, 35 ret., 8.4 avg.



OT Ivan Douglas will not play this season, due to blood clots found near his chest.


OFFENSE: Chris Vance-WR
DEFENSE: David Thompson-DT, Kenny Peterson-DT, Matt Wilhelm-MLB, Cie Grant-WLB, Michael Doss-SS, Donnie Nickey-FS, Andy Groom-P

By Joe Howley
Royal Oak, Mich.

OSU, amazingly, expects all 11 offensive starters back from last year's 14-0 team, and the Buckeyes should be just about as good again in 2003. Senior Craig Krenzel (6'4", 225 lbs) will again be the perfect match for Tressel's offense (140.9 efficiency rating 14th in I-A). He is an effective field-general for the Buckeyes' ground-oriented, clock-grinding, error-conscious attack. Krenzel's 368 rushing yards in 2002 gives opposing defensive coordinators yet another Buckeye headache.

Krenzel has been tough and durable since taking the starting reins, but if he should go down, another senior, Scott McMullen, will be ready to go. McMullen in many ways seems like a clone of Krenzel - not flashy but numbingly and numberingly efficient. In limited mop-up action, McMullen had an eye-popping 81 percentage (25-31) completion of his pass attempts. And, behind the steady seniors is ballyhooed Ohio prep-phenom Justin Zwick, who redshirted as a freshman. Zwick gives the Bucks three QBs, any one of which most I-A teams would love to have starting.

Senior wideout Michael Jenkins is ready for a superstar season. The rangy 6-5, 215-pounder caught 61 passes for 1076 yards and six scores, and will again feast when opposing defenses pack the box against the powerful OSU running game. Meanwhile, flanker Chris Gamble is a Charles Woodson-type two-way standout. He ranked second on the team (31 catches, 499 yards) and gained All-Big Ten mention as a cornerback in just his first year at the position. He may be less of an offensive factor as he will, at this point, be a focus of the secondary. This position will fare well, regardless. Players like senior Drew Carter add depth at the wide receiver positions, which will also see a heavy influx of redshirt talent to fill the backup positions and provide Gamble some rest (he started both ways in five games, with 128 total plays against Illinois).

The same talent-rich situation applies at running back. The Buckeyes start with standout sophomore Maurice Clarett (6'0", 230-lb missile), who set an OSU freshman record with 1190 yards, along with 16 TDs and 5.6 yards-per-carry. Clarett made noise off and on about testing the NFL early entry limitations, but that brouhaha seems to have been more media hype than any real team problem. The main concern for the Buckeyes heading into spring practice is getting Clarett completely healthy. Clarett missed three games in 2002 with minor knee surgery and a nagging shoulder problem, and given his brutal Earl Campbell-type running style, he's going to take more of a pounding in the future.

Tressel has that situation more than covered with Lydell Ross, who rolled up 602 yards in a backup role to Clarett, and third-stringer Maurice Hall, who had 370 yards in part-time action. It would be foolish if he pushes Maurice, knowing he'll deliver when asked, to the breaking point. Coach will be smart to rotate in Ross and/or Hall often enough to keep his backs potent. It will be a shame if the former happens and it affects the offense.

Regardless of which of the three backs carries the ball, the Buckeye ground game is going to consistently pummel opponents. Hard not to with five seniors set to return to their respective starting OL positions. Ivan Douglas at left tackle, the massive (6-5, 355) Adrien Clarke at left guard, Alex Stepanovich at center, Brice Bishop at right guard and Shane Oliviea at right tackle form a successful and experienced blocking wall. OSU relies more on straight man assignments and power-blocking to make its running game go, and a big back like Clarett, bolting through gaps as he punishes would-be tacklers, is perfect to make the most of that strategy. The Buckeyes are also well-stocked in reserves, with senior walk-on Mike Kne, and sophomores Nick Mangold and Rob Sims ready to rotate in as needed. Unity should mean this OL will improve on allowing 32 sacks.

The Buckeyes have a pair of tight ends which they alternate, even playing in a double-TE formation. Senior Ben Hartsock (6-4, 264) was third on the team with 17 catches, and also put his size to good use as an effective blocker on the line. Sophomore Ryan Hamby (6-5, 240) will also see plenty of action from one of the TE positions. OSU alternates a fullback with a second TE depending on its specific formation. Senior Brandon Joe saw most of the playing time in 2002, with soph back-up Branden Schnittker snaring the only two recorded FB-catches. So, as you may know, the Buckeyes utilize the fullback in almost exclusively in a blocking capacity - each had one carry during the title campaign. But will that change? Wish we could tell you … again, Tressel would be wise to add this dimension.

The only weakness for the Buckeyes could be either disastrous injury(ies) -- losing a couple of the running backs or receivers, for example -- or a completely uncharacteristic (for Tressel-led squads) attack of overconfidence. The Buckeyes were strong but not spectacular on offense in 2002, which should head off any attacks of complacency. We expect the Bucks to be as good, or better, than they were offensively.


WR Michael Jenkins


Returning Starters in bold
QB Craig Krenzel-Sr (6-4, 225) Scott McMullen-Sr (6-3, 215) / Justin Zwick-Fr
FB Branden Joe-Sr (6-0, 245) Brandon Schnittker-So (6-1, 250)
TB Maurice Clarett-So (6-0, 230) Lydell Ross-Jr (6-0, 210) / Maurice Hall-Jr
WR Michael Jenkins-Sr (6-5, 215) Drew Carter-Sr (6-4, 200)
WR Chris Gamble-Jr (6-2, 180) Bam Childress-Jr (5-10, 185)
TE Ben Hartsock-Sr (6-4, 264) Ryan Hamby-So (6-5, 240)
OT Rob Sims-So (6-4, 305) Doug Datish-Fr (6-5, 290)
OG Adrien Clarke-Sr (6-5, 355) R.J. Coleman-Fr (6-5, 265)
C Alex Stepanovich-Sr (6-4, 310) Nick Mangold-So (6-4, 280)
OG Bryce Bishop-Sr (6-3, 312) Adam Olds-So (6-4, 290)
OT Shane Olivea-Sr (6-5, 310) Mike Kne-Sr (6-4, 300)
K Mike Nugent-Jr (5-10, 170) Josh Huston-Jr (6-1, 195)



By Joe Howley
Royal Oak, Mich.

Ohio State won the national crown on the back(s) of its defense, and while there is some rebuilding to do here, there's enough talent to assure OSU will again be one of the more dominant squads. The Bucks were No. 3 in the I-A rankings in rushing defense (77.7 ypg), and three of four starters back on that line (and depth to boot) mean similar results ahead.

Senior defensive end Darrion Scott (6-5, 271) leads the way, nabbing 2002 All-Big Ten honors after collecting a team-high 8 1/2 sacks. It appears that Scott will be moved inside the interior of the line to bolster strength of up the middle. At the other end is fellow-senior Will Smith. Junior Simon Fraser, who saw some starting duties during the season at DE, and sophomore Mike Kudla, an unusual contributor as a true freshman, will also see time as a backup at end. Senior DT Tim Anderson completes the returning starters on the frontline. Sophomore Marcus Green, a powerful run-stuffer, will get first crack at the other tackle spot to replace the departed Kenny Peterson. With the LB shuffle, matching 2002's 2.6 yards-per-carry allowed may not quite happen, but the DL's major contribution to the (32 of team's 40) sack-total will.

The linebacking crew was hit hard by the departure of Cie Grant and Matt Wilhelm, and the secondary must fill the gaps left by Nickey and Doss. Soph A.J. Hawk is in line to take over for Grant, assuming the free-ranging role of the WILL backer, while much-touted sophomore Mike D'Andrea is ready to step into the middle to replace Wilhelm. Senior Rob Reynolds is the only returner among the linebacking crew. He will hold his own on the strong side. Reynolds is capable of shutting down the run on whichever side is loaded. There needs to be group character amongst this LB crew for defensive success, period. The talent is there.

OSU finished a hard-to-swallow 95th ranking in I-A passing yards per game. But that was clearly the result of necessitated, excessive throwing by opponents who were shut down run-wise. And Ohio State's No. 2 rank in scoring defense (13.1 ppg) bodes of the Bucks' overall defensive prowess. This crew has character issues, too. If perceived soft as a unit, look for offenses to open up at earlier stages of the game. Close games won in 2002 may not be such assured victories if the secondary is again a marginally weak link.

Safety Michael Doss (3-time All-American) ran out of eligibility, but corners Dustin Fox and Gamble are back to take over leadership of the secondary. Fox, a hard-hitting sophomore, was originally slated for duty at safety anyway, so he'll likely drop back to fill one of two vacancies, while Gamble, in addition to his offensive contributions, will continue his role as the Buckeyes' top cover-back. Senior Will Allen, who saw plenty of duty in nickel packages, gets first shot at the safety vacancy, while sophomores Nate Salley and E.J. Underwood - both with great speed and lacking only experience - will battle to take over the open slot at cornerback. As the positions are decided, we will give updates when needed.


DE Darrion Scott


Returning Starters in bold
DE Will Smith-Sr (6-4, 250) Mike Kudla-So (6-3, 255)
DT Darrion Scott-Sr (6-3, 271) Marcus Green-So (6-3, 300)
DT Tim Anderson-Sr (6-4, 289) Quinn Pitcock-Fr (6-4, 285)
DE Simon Fraser-Jr (6-6, 250) Jay Richardson-Fr (6-5, 245)
SLB Robert Reynolds-Sr (6-3, 234) Bobby Carpenter-So (6-3, 240)
MLB Mike D'Andrea-So (6-3, 240) Fred Pagac-Sr (6-1, 225)
WLB A.J. Hawk-So(6-2, 230) Jason Bond-Sr (6-3, 240)
CB Dustin Fox-Jr (6-0, 190) E.J. Underwood-So (6-1, 175)
CB Chris Gamble-Jr (6-2, 180) Harlen Jacobs-Jr (6-1, 197)
SS Nate Salley-So (6-3, 180) Tyler Everett-So (6-1, 185)
FS Will Allen-Sr (6-2, 190) Ashton Youboty-Fr (6-2, 187)
P B.J. Sander-Sr (6-3, 212) Mike Nugent-Jr (5-10, 170)




Junior placekicker Mike Nugent nailed a school record 24 field goals in 2002, missing only twice. He will be a top contender for the Lou Groza Award this season after being named first-team All-America on many squads last year. The Bucks will have an ace in the hole in any close game.

If there's any Achilles' heel for the Buckeyes, the special teams - aside from Nugent - are it. Punter Andy Groom, who boomed 'em at a 45.0 average last year (fourth in D-I) has graduated, and redshirt senior B.J. Sander -- who averaged 41.9 in 2000 before losing the job to Groom -- has a chance to reclaim the starting slot. But Sander will have to "Smith-Barney" - his two 2002 punts were for a 29.8 average- and earn it. Sander punted well three seasons ago, so this area should be able to bounce back. State allowed almost 13 yards-per-return on punts. Coverage has to improve with the punter not set. A slow, grinding offense like OSU's needs field position to work effectively as planned.

The Buckeyes' return units were, statistically, the least productive of their 2002 squads. Hall and Gamble split the kickoff return duties, while Gamble exclusively handled the punt returns. It might just have been too much on Gamble, whose 8.4 average ranked 78th among Division I punt returners. He is a breakaway threat, regardless.


The vanilla offense the Buckeyes possessed last year has found some flavor this spring with the emergence of a passing game. The Buckeyes go five deep at the receiver position (along with two great receiving TEs), and may look to utilize more of an aerial attack to compliment the punishing ground game. Two real head-turners running routes this spring have been redshirt freshmen, Santonio Holmes and Roy Hall. Holmes looks to be a prize playmaker as a third or fourth receiver who also excels at punt returns. Stepping in for the departed Chris Vance will be junior Bam Childress, who had the best spring game performance of any receiver, hauling in four passes for 109 yards and three TDs. He also energized the crowd with a 94-yard kick return for a TD.

Despite losing three top playmakers (Wilhelm, Doss and Nickey), the Buckeye defense should not lose any aggressiveness. Two new youngsters you will come to know are CB Donte Whitner and FS/CB Ashton Youboty. Both are true freshmen, they enrolled early to get a jump-start on their defensive playing days. Both have made significant strides this spring and with solid performances in fall camp, could see substantial playing time once kickoffs get underway. Questions still loom in the secondary heading into fall, but it looks as though Fox and Gamble will continue to man the corners, despite efforts to try and move Fox over to safety. Fox offers a better cover man at the corner spot than anyone else right now, and they'll need his skills when facing an early onslaught of passing teams such as Washington, San Diego State, and N.C. State. Don't be surprised, though, to see Whitner or Youboty step in at corner by mid-season, making way for Fox at strong safety.

The Buckeyes may have a battle ensuing at punt returner, as Santonio Holmes has given Chris Gamble a real push. Holmes took one back 79 yards in the spring game and has shown flashes of brilliance at the position all spring. Childress has looked good this spring returning kicks.