Cobb’s career day lifts Gophers

David Cobb rushed for a career-high 220 yards and scored two touchdowns as Minnesota defeated Middle Tennessee State 35-24.

Minnesota running back David Cobb runs the ball against Middle Tennessee State on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Amanda Snyder

Minnesota running back David Cobb runs the ball against Middle Tennessee State on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Grant Donald

These days, it’s not uncommon for a running back to give most of the praise to his linemen after a huge performance.

Senior running back David Cobb is no different. He rushed for a career-high 220 yards on 29 carries and scored two touchdowns in Minnesota’s 35-24 victory over Middle Tennessee State on Saturday. After the game, he praised his offensive line.

“I need to borrow probably $300 from the athletic director to take the [offensive] line out to eat,” Cobb said, smiling.

In the Gophers’ season opener last Thursday, Cobb split time with Minnesota’s other backs, only accumulating 71 yards. On Saturday, Cobb had eclipsed that number before the first half ended.

“We played the other backs some, but it is hard to take [Cobb] off the field when he is hot. He ran very well today,” head coach Jerry Kill said.

Minnesota rushed for 284 yards in the game. Donnell Kirkwood contributed 23 yards on five carries.

Minnesota’s passing game was not nearly as effective.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Mitch Leidner went 5-for-11 for 67 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Leidner left the game in the beginning of the fourth quarter with an apparent left knee injury.

“I am concerned, and I don’t know anything,” Kill said after the game.

Redshirt freshman Chris Streveler came in and finished the quarter, but he did not attempt a pass.

“It is one of those deals [in which] you put the next one in and he will play well,” Kill said. “I hope that [Streveler starting] is not the case. That is nothing against Chris; you don’t want anyone to get injured.”

Heading into the game, the Gophers’ defense was plagued with injuries. However, that didn’t stop it from dominating the first half for a second consecutive week.

It took Middle Tennessee State until the second quarter to advance the ball past midfield.

Senior linebacker Damien Wilson led the charge on defense, recording 14 tackles, one sack and an interception.

The Gophers came away with two more interceptions, as both sophomore Jalen Myrick and redshirt junior Briean Boddy-Calhoun recorded their first of the year.

Myrick took his to the house, benefiting from the receiver running into the referee on the play.

“I guess somebody ran into him so I kind of slowed down a little bit, but then I saw the ball, so I just broke on it, and it was an easy little walk in,” Myrick said.

Just like last week, the defense shut out the opponent in the first half and allowed 20 or more points in the second half — a troubling trend for Minnesota moving forward.

Another trend that carried over from Minnesota’s first game was the lack of targets for redshirt sophomore tight end Maxx Williams.

Williams was the team’s leading receiver a year ago, but he’s been targeted only four times so far this year. He had one reception for a 27-yard touchdown on his only target Saturday.

“I had my opportunity when I had it. Other than that, I didn’t really have my opportunity. I go out there and do what the coaches ask, and that’s all I can do,” Williams said.

Cobb was stellar Saturday, which was enough for the Gophers to get the victory, but that may not be the case down the road against the Big Ten’s best.

“We ran the ball effectively,” Kill said. “It seems like anytime we run the ball over 200 yards, we have a pretty good chance of winning.”