Editor’s note: Columbus North High School graduate Matt Krempel, who starts at offensive tackle for Northern Illinois, has agreed to share his Orange Bowl experience with The Republic for four days leading up to the Jan. 1 game.
MIAMI — Matt Krempel knew he would eat like a king leading up to Northern Illinois’ challenge of Florida State in the Orange Bowl. He just didn’t know it would be like a small king.
“We woke up at 6 a.m. to go to a breakfast sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” Krempel said. “It was good food, but the portions weren’t that good.”
One of the breakfast offerings was quiche, which seems like it wouldn’t be an offensive lineman’s first choice.
“Quiche is all right,” said Krempel, who is a 310-pounder. “As long as there are a lot of them.”
The team returned to the Fontainbleau Miami hotel for meetings where the players studied their own practice film along with film of the heavily-favored Seminoles, who have been sitting at a 13 1/2-point favorite.
“Florida State is one of those teams that are legendary in the college football world,” Krempel said. “It’s one of those big teams that you wanted to be on when you were a kid. But now it’s kind of like you want to prove that your team is better.”
The Seminoles’ talent comes out on film. “They have really good athletes,” Krempel said. “I personally look forward to this game as a challenge. For Florida State, the biggest things that is different from other teams is their speed. Their speed is different all across the board.”
Although people tend to associate the speed advantage with skill position players, Krempel said it affects everyone, from defensive players to offensive linemen. “They have defensive linemen who can run as fast as a tight end or a bigger running back,” Krempel said. “It really does factor in.”
While Krempel has been able to get some down time (the hotel is on the beach), he has made sure to keep it quiet at night. “I haven’t gone out and done much,” he said. “They have a hospitality room where they have video games, arcade games, a pool and food and drinks. I have been staying around there at night.”
He said Northern Illinois coaching staff preaches about the players’ responsibilities often. “We all understand,” he said.
Krempel does appreciate the 80-degree temperatures in Miami. “Some of my friends texted me photos of the snow (in Columbus),” he said. “I just laugh and let them know it is 80 degrees here.”
He has kept many of his high school friends, including his former football teammates at Columbus North High School. “I would really like to say hi to all the guys I played with in high school,” he said. “I rarely get the chance to talk to them, but I got Facebook as soon as I got to Northern Illinois, so I try to keep up that way. And I was home at Christmas, so I came back and saw all of them.”
On Saturday night, he planned to go out for dinner with his parents, Lou and Martha Krempel, for a low-key night.
Then it’s back to work this morning, with hopefully a big breakfast.
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