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OSU's Meyer on Elliott: Right message, wrong time

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer wasn't pleased that Ezekiel Elliott used his postgame news conference to criticize the coaches over play-calling during the 17-14 loss to Michigan State on Saturday.

But Meyer wasn't exactly upset with the message.

In fact, Meyer said he agreed with Elliott.

"I couldn't disagree with him, his comments that he should've got the ball a little bit more," Meyer told reporters in Columbus on Monday, the start of Ohio State-Michigan week. "But that's not the place to do that. He knows that.

"That's not the forum."

Following Michigan State's upset victory, Elliott told reporters he lobbied for more than the 12 carries that he got, and wasn't sure why he didn't get them.

Elliott, a junior running back, came into the game with a streak of 15 consecutive games of more than 100 yards rushing, but finished Saturday with 33 yards on 12 carries.

Elliott also used his postgame interview to announce he's leaving Ohio State for the NFL after this season.

He has since apologized for his comments, first to Meyer, then on Twitter. And Meyer has accepted.

"A very isolated incident," Meyer said. "We have a three-year bank on Zeke. ... Zeke is a very honest guy; the frustration, anger, all that, probably mounted up.

"Zeke has always been an extremely loyal person, a great competitor. ... He gets a microphone stuck in his face and obviously we do not condone that and encourage that. Our rule is always talk about your teammates and move on.

"He came to see me, we had a very long discussion. He's great. He apologized and he said they didn't have the whole interview in there. Regardless, I'm not going to listen to the whole interview. It doesn't mean a whole lot to me.

"It does mean a lot that that's caused a tension. We squashed it as a team."

Elliott was dealing with an infection in his leg earlier in the week, but Meyer said that had nothing to do with his lack of carries.

Instead, he said Michigan State's impressive defensive front changed the play-calling — and he said he regrets that.

Meyer also said Ohio State could've thrown more, even in the bad weather. OSU used a strong passing game to beat Michigan State last season.

"We wanted to throw the ball in that game," said Meyer, whose Buckeyes finished with 132 yards of total offense. "That's a very good defensive front, very good, how do you get them off you? Then you come out in pregame warm-ups, 'Oh no.' You still have to be able to function in the elements a little bit."

After all, it's no secret MSU's weakness on defense has been in the secondary. Just look at the Nebraska game.

Meyer said he regrets not taking a more active role in play-calling as Saturday's game went on, and said he will have more of a role moving forward.

That starts Saturday in the regular-season finale at Michigan.

The winner of that game still has a chance to make the Big Ten championship game — if Michigan State were to lose against Penn State.

It's a surprising scenario for the Wolverines, who have turned the program around in a hurry in the first year under Jim Harbaugh. Not that Meyer is shocked.

"I'm not surprised at all," Meyer said. "They have excellent players, they're well-coached. They have great personnel.

"They always have great personnel. Whether they're always playing great or whatever, that's a different answer.

"Obviously, they're playing very well right now."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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