After having a breakout season for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, David Cobb is coming back to the state where it all began.
The former Ellison Eagles standout is coming to Texas to lead Minnesota (8-4) into the Texas Bowl against the Syracuse Orange (6-6).
The game kicks off at 5 p.m. Dec. 27 and will be televised on ESPN.
Cobb, a junior, had a career season rushing for 1,111 yards and seven touchdowns to become Minnesota’s top rusher.
He helped the Gophers beat then-No. 25 Nebraska for the first time since 1960 and rushed for a career-best 188 yards in a 42-38 win at Indiana.
How excited are you for the Texas Bowl?
I’m excited. It’s an opportunity not just for me, but for my team to come back to Texas and get that bad taste out of our mouths. We’re coming off two bad losses so we’re excited, plus there are a couple of native Texans that feed off the home crowd. We’re definitely excited to go back again.
Last year you guys lost to Texas Tech. How motivated are you to come back to Reliant Stadium and get some retribution?
We’re motivated as a team, offensively and defensively. We have a great, talented group. We wanted to go and win the Big 10, but we’re definitely excited for the bowl game.
It’s like an extra spring bowl for us. We’re not counting how big the bowl is, we’re excited because we have one and we’re going to play hard.
Was this season everything you expected it to be?
It’s definitely been up and down. Your first two seasons, you really don’t play that much and coming into the season your mindset is “Hey, I’ve got two more seasons and I’m going to make the best of it.” It got me mad because when I was at Ellison, I had my brother in front of me for two years so I really couldn’t play running back. It’s really been everything that I thought about when I made my decision to come to Minnesota, but it takes a lot of hard work. I’ve just been fortunate enough and lucky enough to have those opportunities. I just try to make the best out of it and the coaches have never lost confidence in me and my mom and dad were always there supporting me. I’ve had a lot of great support, a lot of people have put their confidence in me and it’s allowed me to come out and play my best, week in and week out.
You finished with more than 100 yards in five of the last six games. Talk about how the running game got things going late in the season.
Toward the end of the season we found out that we could play with any of these guys. We’re just as good, just as big, and just as physical as any team in the Big 10. I think the offensive line and a couple of receivers bought into what we’re trying to do and it really helped me out. Skill players, big men, it all works as a unit, when the O-line is on fire, that helps out the backs and they open up big holes. I can be patient and choose where I want to go. I think the confidence from early wins helped us build as the season went on.
Is it hard preparing for bowls because you have 27 days between games, finals and the holidays during the preparation time?
I wouldn’t say it’s hard, but it’s definitely challenging because you have so many things going on that can take your focus away like finals, what bowl game you’re going to get, who you’re playing. Sometimes it takes away from the game and your overall focus, but I think our coaches have done a great job keeping us focused as well as keeping us relaxed.
How excited were you when you found out Minnesota was going back to Houston?
I definitely was happy to come back to Texas and this time play in front of the crowd. I wanted to go to a different bowl, but when I heard we were going to Texas, I smiled from ear to ear. I was excited.
Family members were calling me and were excited to go see me play, close friends, old coaches. Just to have that opportunity to play in front of them after you worked so hard, especially since they don’t get the opportunity to see you play.
I have the opportunity to go out and play in front of them, so you can bet I’ll be ready to go.
Have you seen the Syracuse defense? Where do you think you can be successful against it?
Those guys fly around and get to the ball. It’s not just one man tackling, it’s two and three and you have a safety dropping in. It’ll be a challenge all day for me and those guys receiving, but I think it’ll come down to who plays physical for four quarters and who makes the most plays. They’re definitely a tough bunch up front and they haven’t given up much rushing yards this season.
What kind of momentum can you build off a good performance in the bowl game?
You never want to go into the offseason with a bad taste in your mouth and last season we kind of had that. You like to build off of that, have younger guys get more excited and get more recruits. It helps everyone all around and the total vibe of the offseason will be better.