The Minnesota Golden Gophers are flying under the radar in the Big Ten heading into 2014 with perennial powers like the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans garnering most of the attention.While they aren’t as flashy as some of their conference counterparts, the Gophers should put together a solid team in 2014 that could surprise some people. One of the biggest reasons will be running back David Cobb who leads a deep backfield into the fall.
Cobb returns to Minnesota in 2014 after a strong season in which he rushed for over 1,200 yards and scored seven touchdowns while averaging a strong 5.07 yards per carry. He was one of just seven players in the Big Ten last season to break the 1,000-yard mark on the ground and will be the fourth-leading returning rusher to the league in 2014. His efforts have largely been overshadowed thanks to the return of Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon this season but he is a formidable workhorse in his own right.
Minnesota is committed to running the football so Cobb will get plenty of opportunities to show what he can do this fall. He’ll have some of the pressure taken off, however, by not having to carry the running game all by himself. There is veteran depth behind him with Donnell Kirkwood and Rodrick Williams Jr., returning after the pair combined for 452 yards and three touchdowns last season. Berkley Edwards will also get into the rotation after missing last season with an injury and the Gophers are hopeful that highly touted recruit Jeff Jones will qualify for his scholarship and add his talents to the mix.
The Gophers will have a physical offense that is keyed by Cobb and the running game. If they can control the tempo and wear down opposing defenses with the depth of their backfield, look for Minnesota to make some noise in the Big Ten title race this fall.