Success vs. FAMU Could Be Springboard for Elliott
By Rob Ogden
Other than Florida A&M, which cashed a $900,000 check following the 76-0 loss to Ohio State Saturday, the game's biggest beneficiary might have been freshman running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Photo by Dan Harker
After the Buckeyes took a 55-0 halftime lead, Elliott came in as Ohio State's primary running back, and finished the game with a team-leading 162 rushing yards on 14 carries, including two touchdowns - the first of his collegiate career.
It was the first time a true freshman rushed for 100 yards in a single game since Antonio Pittman did it against Indiana in 2004.
“It was definitely a great experience," Elliott said. "The line did a great job today and we made things happen. It's been good to get a little more game experience in these early games. Every time you get game reps it makes you better."
Aided by a 57-yard run, the Missouri native averaged 11.6 yards per carry. Elliott's season average of 9.52 yards per carry currently ranks 12th in the nation.
Most of his touches came in the third quarter, when he carried the ball 10 times for 121 yards and the two scores against a defense that knew the run was coming.
Photo by Jim Davidson
It was the first extended action Elliott has seen this season.
Entering Saturday's game, Elliott had recorded only seven carries for 38 yards in the previous three games.
Following the Buffalo game on Aug. 31, when Elliott had only one carry for two yards, coach Urban Meyer said he wanted to get Elliott more involved.
He had six touches the next week against San Diego State, but didn't play against California.
In another season, Elliott might not have had to wait until the fourth week to get his first touchdown, but in a crowded backfield such as the Buckeyes', carries aren't easy to come by.
"We have a great stable of running backs. It's hard to get a spot and hold a spot when the guys around you are so great," Elliott said. "Every day we come hard to practice and try to earn our spot."
After the win against the Rattlers, Meyer gave some clarification to the backfield situation.
Meyer said seniors Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall, and junior Rod Smith are the first-tier guys at the position. Elliott and redshirt freshman Warren Ball form the next group, with experience being the aspect they lack the most, Meyer said.
"Ezekiel Elliott's got an incredible future here," Meyer said. "I wanted to reward him a little bit; he's involved in special teams now."
Elliott said he doesn't mind the competition.
"We compete and make each other better," he said. "We're a very close-knit group and we work to get better as a team. We all came to Ohio State for a reason and that's to play."
If he keeps running like he did Saturday, it'll be hard to keep the ball out his hands for too much longer.
Ezekiel Elliott Photo Gallery
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