No Clarett? It makes no difference to Huskies

Updated: August 25, 2003, 8:47 PM ET

SEATTLE -- For Washington coach Keith Gilbertson, it makes no difference that Maurice Clarett won't play Saturday when the No. 17 Huskies visit defending national champion Ohio State.

"We're just preparing to defend the system, what they do," Gilbertson said Monday. "I have the feeling Ohio State is going to have more than one quality tailback."

How about Maurice Hall or Lydell Ross?

The Ohio State depth chart indicates one of them will start Saturday's game against Washington, now that it appears Clarett could be suspended for as many as six games.

"The two other youngsters that are listed to play are highly respected guys, highly recruited," Gilbertson said. "We know they're going to put a quality athlete at tailback. So we defend (against) the system."

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was asked during a teleconference how the team has addressed Clarett's situation. He said the No. 2 Buckeyes tried to concentrate on practices and meetings, but the issue was in the background.

"It's real. It's something that's there," Tressel said. "His teammates hurt for him. We as coaches hurt for him, but we've got to get the situation squared away and we'll move on from there."

The school said Clarett, who set an Ohio State freshman record with 1,237 yards rushing last season, has been suspended for "multiple games" for exaggerating the value of items stolen from a borrowed car he was driving.

With Clarett doing much of the work last season, Ross ran for 619 yards rushing and averaged 3.7 per carry. Hall gained 370 yards, averaging 4.7 on each attempt.

"Obviously, they've got to carry more of the load than they did a year ago," Tressel said.

Gilbertson sounded more concerned about stopping quarterback Craig Krenzel, whom he described as an extra fullback. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound quarterback isn't afraid to drop his shoulder and run.

"They pound it off tackle, and when you think they're ready to throw, they pound it in some more," Gilbertson said. "That's not to say the quarterback isn't a good thrower, but they have tailback power and quarterback power. They're physical."

Washington linebacker Greg Carothers, who moved from safety for his senior season, echoed his coach. The Huskies will have to concentrate on stopping the run, regardless of who carries the ball.

"They've got a lot of guys you have to be careful with," Carothers said. "So when the question is asked, 'What do we do with Maurice Clarett not playing?' The answer is, 'Nothing.' They do what they do."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index