Even before his team's first preseason practice, Ohio State senior quarterback Craig Krenzel was ready for questions about Maurice Clarett. "A bunch of people are going to be asking me about Maurice," Krenzel said of the Buckeyes' star sophomore running back, who was under investigation by the university and the NCAA for violations ranging from improper academic help to falsely reporting stolen property. "Maurice is a great player, but we won all the games he missed last year, and we're confident that we'll do the same thing this year."
That theory will now be tested. Last Friday, Ohio State announced that Clarett will miss "multiple games," which could be six or more. Clarett returned to the team on Sunday, but he'll sit out Saturday's opener against Washington.
Ohio State has 10 offensive starters back (minus Clarett), but in order for the Buckeyes to repeat as national champs, they'll need Krenzel and junior running backs Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall, who combined to rush for 989 yards in 2002, to step up.