For Urban Meyer and Ohio State’s players, the case regarding Ezekiel Elliott’s emotional postgame comments criticizing the Buckeyes’ play calling in their 17-14 loss to Michigan State on Saturday is officially closed.
“Zeke has always been an extremely loyal person, a great competitor,” Meyer said Monday. “He’s a very-well thought of junior and he gets a microphone stuck in his face, and obviously, we do not condone [his comments]. Our rule is always talk about your teammates and move on. He came to see me; we had a very long discussion.
“We squashed it as a team.”
Following the loss, Elliott was very critical of Ohio State’s play calling. The Buckeyes’ star running back had just 12 carries against the Spartans and eight of those carries came on one Ohio State drive. Elliott also had just two total carries the second half of the game.
Elliott gained only 33 yards on those 12 rushes, but the Buckeyes’ star felt he deserved more opportunities as there is little dispute he had been Ohio State’s best player throughout the course of this season. And, to be honest, he kind of had a point.
Meyer agreed, saying the Buckeyes should have found a way to get Elliott more involved in the offense, but also said the postgame interview session was not the appropriate time to address the situation.
“I couldn’t disagree with him, his comments, that he should have got the ball a little bit more,” Meyer said. “But that’s not the place to do it. He knows that.”
Added All-American defensive end Joey Bosa: “I saw what [Elliott] said; I didn’t look into it too much. I think he said what a lot of people were scared to say. He said what was in his heart. It may have been wrong in the moment, but it’s what he felt like he needed to say.”
That was the general consensus surrounding the situation Monday as the players were gathered at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Monday to preview Saturday’s game against archrival Michigan: Elliott is an emotional player who spoke out after a difficult loss. Not many people agreed with the platform which he chose to do so, but they all understood what Elliott said was valid.
Elliott issued a public apology Monday morning on his Twitter account.
“It’s a highly emotional situation,” said senior linebacker and captain Joshua Perry. “Definitely not something that you need to say in front of everybody and especially the way he said it, but at the same time you have to understand where he’s coming from and the amount of work he puts in and how invested he is in the program.”
“People are allowed to have opinions,” added fellow captain, offensive tackle Taylor Decker. “I don’t necessarily agree that that was the time or place to say those things, but he is allowed to have an opinion and he voiced it.
“Zeke is one of the main reasons we won it all last year. I know from being around him and him being one of my friends that he’s given everything to this program so I think he’s allowed to voice an opinion and he’s talked to the coaches about that. He’s fine.”
Meyer confirmed there will be no disciplinary action for Elliott’s comments; he’ll start Saturday for the Buckeyes against Michigan.
Ohio State says it has moved on, and with Saturday’s matchup in Ann Arbor looming, it’s going to have to.
“It was probably blown up a little bit more on the outside than anybody here really took it,” Perry said. “Definitely over it now.”
Added Meyer: "If we find a way to win this game, I imagine we won't be talking about this much longer."