Krenzel could be sidelined if elbow doesn#039;t heal

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003

COLUMBUS - Unless his injured elbow improves, Ohio State starting quarterback Craig Krenzel will miss Saturday's game against Bowling Green.

Krenzel's throwing arm was caught between two tacklers while he was making a pass in the second quarter of Saturday's 44-38 triple-overtime win over North Carolina State. He did not practice with the No. 5 Buckeyes on Tuesday and most likely will be held out at least until Thursday's workout.

Asked Tuesday night if he would be able to play Saturday if his condition didn't improve, Krenzel said, ''Probably not.''

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Tests earlier in the day disclosed that Krenzel had a strained ulnar collateral ligament and a sprained flexor tendon in his right arm. A somber Krenzel said that he has been advised not to throw a football for fear of making the injury worse.

''If pitchers and quarterbacks tear that ligament, it's something that possibly can be career-threatening,'' Krenzel said. ''For one week, if it doesn't get any better and it's still sore and bothersome, then the doctors and the trainers are going to be the ones making the decision, not me.''

Krenzel was able to play the rest of the North Carolina State despite the injury.

''It was bothering him a little bit,'' coach Jim Tressel said. ''Like many of the guys, the adrenaline is going, he's a competitor. And, yeah, it was hurting a little bit, but so what? And all of a sudden on Sunday, you know, it's a little bit tighter, and Monday, you know, it's tight. I haven't seen him today, but they (team doctors) made the decision yesterday that he won't throw today.''

Krenzel supplied most of Ohio State's offense in the victory over North Carolina State. He led the Buckeyes in rushing with 13 carries for 37 yards - no other back netted more than 5 yards - and also completed 26 of 36 passes for 273 yards. His four touchdown passes were a career high, as were his three interceptions.

At Tuesday's practice, senior backup Scott McMullen took most of the snaps from center, with redshirt freshmen Justin Zwick and Troy Smith sharing duty behind McMullen.

''Right now I'm just taking it as if I'm starting,'' McMullen said. ''I know it's a day-to-day thing. But I've got to treat it like I've got to play on Saturday.''

Krenzel, who is 18-1 as a starter, said he could probably play Saturday but might have to risk his future if he did.

''It's something the adrenaline probably could carry me through, but then you'd be in the same position again next week,'' he said. ''If you don't give it time to heal, it's something that will keep flaring up. With a ligament, if it's stretched or damaged and you throw too much on it you can actually tear it and do damage there.''

Krenzel's favorite target, wide receiver Michael Jenkins, said the odds are in favor of Krenzel being ready to play.

''It's going to take a lot to keep Craig out of there,'' Jenkins said. ''But if he can't go and the doctors say he needs to sit out, he's going to do what's best. It's going to eat him up inside. If he can't go, Scott McMullen is a capable backup and I'm sure he'll step up and do a good job.''

Tressel said the senior wasn't in pain when he first was hit.

''I don't know that he felt anything excruciating at that time,'' Tressel said. ''It just was sore.''

Tressel said the emotion of the moment was enough to keep Krenzel in the game. After North Carolina State came back from a 24-7 deficit to send the game into overtime, Krenzel was at his best.

In the three overtime possessions, Krenzel completed 10 of 12 passes for 70 yards and three touchdowns. The only other gainer the Buckeyes had came on Krenzel's 5-yard run for a first down.

Tressel said the team's medical staff would ultimately determine if Krenzel would be available to play against the Falcons.

''If there's no chance of further injury … then you make your decision as to how effective he is,'' Tressel said. ''We'd have to wait and see on that.''

Krenzel has played despite minor bruises and injuries in his 19 games as a starter.

''It's frustrating, but at the same time I might wake up tomorrow and feel better,'' he said. ''Maybe Thursday. Who knows?''