Through nine games, Minnesota running back David Cobb has amassed 1,205 rushing yards, which is good for fourth best in the physical Big Ten Conference. Cobb is the perfect runner for this conference, as he runs very hard and always seems to deliver the blow to the defender, rather than absorbing contact. He is constantly churning his legs and falling forward for more yardage.
When looking at Cobb's situational statistics, a couple of stats really highlight the type of runner that he is. When the Gopher's have been faced with a 3rd-and-short situations (1-6 yards to go), they've handed the ball off to Cobb 19 times and he moved the chains 16 out of those 19 times. He is extremely tough in-between the tackles and it usually takes more than one defender to bring him down. This will be a cause for concern after the poor tackling performance on Saturday night vs. Michigan State.
Minnesota likes to establish the running game early with Cobb, as 73 of his 227 carries (32%) have come in the first quarter of games this season. The Gophers also like to use Cobb on first down, where 125 of his 227 carries have came on first down and he is averaging five yards per carry in that situation.
The Golden Gophers do not use him much as a receiver out of the backfield but he has capable hands and he can be used on screens against aggressive front sevens. He has 10 receptions this season for 100 yards. His best receiving and most complete game, in my opinion, came against Michigan where he caught three passes for 50 yards and rushed for 183 yards on 32 carries.
When watching some of his tape, there was one play versus the Wolverines that exemplified him as a rusher. It was 2nd-and-10 with 16 seconds left in the first half with the ball spotted on the Michigan 27 yardline. Minnesota came out in 21 personnel (2 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR) looking to gain yardage to set up a go ahead field goal before the half.
That run showed that Cobb is the type of runner who always keeps his legs moving, is not easy to bring down and always plays through the whistle looking for more contact. If he went down on initial contact, the Gophers would have had to line up for a 45+ yard field goal but he individually got them into chip shot territory to take the lead before half.
The front seven is going to have their hands full with Cobb. The defensive line will have to interrupt the Gopher offensive line and the linebackers will have to read their keys and flow to the ball. Safety Vonn Bell will also have to make the proper read quickly and take the correct angles to limit the big run. They are capable of throwing the football but they are definitely a run first team, who look to control time of possession. I would look for Cobb to get 25-30 touches especially if the Minnesota defense does their job early and limits the Buckeye offense. The Ohio State defense will need to bounce back from their poor tackling performance vs. Michigan State to have success vs. Minnesota.
If the defense can contain Cobb, they will be just fine.