Urban Meyer: 'Wasn't the place' for Ezekiel Elliott's outburst

ByAustin Ward ESPN logo
Monday, November 23, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer couldn't argue with the message that his star running back delivered, but the Ohio State coach wasn't happy with the setting where Ezekiel Elliott delivered it.

Elliott apologized to Meyer for criticizing the coaching staff and won't face discipline as the Buckeyes prepare for a huge test Saturday at Michigan.

"We do not condone that," Meyer said during his weekly news conference Monday. "He apologized. We squashed it as a team.

"Zeke is a very honest guy. I couldn't disagree with him; he should have got the ball more. That wasn't the place for it."

The star junior didn't hold back after No. 3 Ohio State's 17-14 loss to No. 9 Michigan State on Saturday, repeatedly expressing his disappointment in the play calling, the positions the coaching staff put the team in and his scaled-back role in the offense.

"How we lost, I just feel like we weren't put in the right opportunity to win this game, we weren't put in the right situations to win this game," Elliott said. "I don't think Michigan State was better than us. They weren't. We didn't execute.

"It's kind of been something we've seen all season, honestly. We'll have some momentum, we'll call some plays that work, and then we kind of try to get away from it, try to get cute and run some other stuff. ... I can't speak for the play calling. I don't know what was going on, I don't know what they were seeing, but honestly, it didn't work out."

Elliott, who spent a few days in the hospital before the game for a staph infection, said he lobbied Meyer for more touches.

"I think he said what a lot of people were scared to say," Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa said Monday. "He said what was on his heart, and it may have been wrong in the moment but it was what he felt like he needed to say."

Linebacker Raekwon McMillan said Elliott has the support of his teammates.

"He spoke his mind after the game," he said. "For three years Zeke has done nothing but good for this program. For everybody to change their mindset about Zeke based off a couple of comments would be crazy."

Meyer said he would be more involved in the play calling going forward, including against the Wolverines.

Elliott publicly apologized for his comments in a tweet, saying he had been "caught up in emotions":

Elliott also clarified that Saturday's loss did not have an effect on his decision to leave Ohio State after the season.

The Buckeyes were showing signs of clicking in the first half on a touchdown drive that featured eight carries from their leading rusher, a Heisman Trophy candidate who entered the weekend with 15 consecutive games with at least 100 yards on the ground.

But Elliott rushed only twice in the second half as the Spartans rallied and eventually nailed a game-winning field goal in the final seconds, putting Ohio State's title hopes both in the Big Ten and nationally on the ropes. The Buckeyes need to take care of their own business in The Game against rival Michigan and have Penn State beat Michigan State to claim a spot in the Big Ten title game.

With the program ready to turn the page from both the loss and the postgame fallout, Michigan is now the sole focus for Meyer and the Buckeyes.

"I'm not saying that was not true," Meyer said. "I'm saying that's not the forum. It's done."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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