Paying strict attention to detail is Cobb's route to playing time

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 9, 2012 - 7:14 AM

The Gophers tailback, who showed promise in limited action last season, knows the little things can separate him from the pack.

David Cobb took a handoff one morning this week, took two strides to his left and toward the line, then suddenly cut hard to his right. Seemingly before anyone could react, the Gophers' 220-pound back was 10 yards upfield, behind the linebackers and coasting to a jog as whistles blew to end the play.

But before Cobb could enjoy the moment, could revel in his breakaway play, he brushed past secondary coach Jay Sawvel, who reached out and with a flick of his wrist and stripped the ball out of the tailback's arms.

The lesson: Never relax.

"Man, I think that's the first one," Cobb said of his oops moment. "He snuck one in there. But I learned from it -- at all times, ball security. Always."

Both parts of that play illustrate why the Gophers are quietly excited about the sophomore's chances to turn tailback from a question mark to an exclamation point this season. The teenager from Killeen, Texas, possesses a natural ability to find holes and drive through them in a hurry. And he's humble enough to learn from his mistakes.

"When I got here as a freshman, I didn't really understand the [offensive] scheme as well as other players," Cobb said. "As far as talent, everybody has talent. So it really comes down to who understands the plays better, who learns what [coaches] want, who works hardest. That's who gets to play."

The Gophers claim to have no idea yet who will play once the 2012 season starts -- but that doubt is reflection of their strength at the position, they say, not weakness. Cobb joins fellow sophomores Donnell Kirkwood and Devon Wright, transfer student James Gillum, and even a couple of freshmen in a hard-to-predict competition for playing time.

"We don't have one guy," offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said. "The crazy thing is, sometimes I've got to do a double-check. I'm watching the line and all of a sudden, one of those backs will make a great move and break one, and I'll be like, 'Was that [No.] 27 or 21 or 20 or 4?' And that's a great thing."

It's a great thing for Cobb, who has been a tailback since he was 10 and his father, a longtime Walter Payton fan, encouraged him to switch from playing safety on his youth team.

"I fell in love with it right away. I liked scoring touchdowns, and I liked the contact, so it's fun," Cobb said. "As a running back, you have to learn how to take care of your body, really hit the weight room hard. It's not an easy decision, but it's fun. There's nothing like playing football."

His chance to play this fall might be more secure had Cobb not torn a ligament in his right knee last season. He received extensive playing time in only one game, the Gophers' blowout loss at Michigan, but he picked up 54 yards on only eight carries. The knee injury wasn't particularly serious, but it came too late in the season for Cobb to build on that performance.

"I felt like I was really starting to gel with the offense," Cobb said. "To get familiar with the plays, get a chance, and then have an injury like that, all you can really do is sit back, encourage the other guys and learn from it. I know you just have to keep proving yourself."

The Gophers weren't sure he understood that a few months ago. Limegrover said the coaching staff sensed "a sense of entitlement" in Cobb during spring practices, like "he thought 'OK, I'm going to be in the mix just because I played a little bit as a freshman.' But it was kind of an eye-opener for him in the spring," Limegrover said. "Hey, there's a good crop of guys here, and everyone is getting better and better. So it was a wake-up call."

Cobb woke up and realized, Limegrover said, that his 3,000-yard high school career, his 35 career touchdowns, didn't mean much now. "He's come out here with a very good demeanor," Limegrover said. "He's been really sharp and really on top of things from an assignment standpoint, which tells me he's locked in pretty well."


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
UCF 6:00 PM
Arizona 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question