Know the foe: Minnesota publisher Brice Marich answers Big Red Report's questions regarding Minnesota.

1.) David Cobb is putting up some big numbers. What makes him so good and did you expect him to improve on what he already did last season?
“Senior tailback David Cobb was been the workhorse back for this offense and has really put this Gopher offense on his back. He is perfect for this physical smash-mouth style of offense they run with his hard-nosed running and how he is a north-south runner. I did expect him to improve on his stellar numbers and his overall game from last season because he was given the reins earlier last year. His vision and cutback ability is what has separated him from many other backs and the last key trait with Cobb is his leadership. He understands the goal for this team and pushes his teammates to their highest potential.”

2.) Do you get the impression that this team really feels they could win out over the next two weeks and head to Indy?
“I do feel this team believes they could make it to Indy. They understand that they still control their own destiny, but have a tough road ahead. They face an angry Cornhusker team after their loop-sided loss at Wisconsin and will have to travel to a very hostile environment in Lincoln, Nebraska. It doesn’t get much easier as the Gophers will then cross the boarder to Madison and take on a very talented Wisconsin Badger squad led by Heisman candidate Melvin Gordon. However, they feel going into each contest that if they play their game and execute, then they will have a great chance to walk away with a victory.”

3.) Give us a player on offense and defense that's maybe not a star, but might have a big game on Saturday.
“On offense, sophomore wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky is someone to keep an eye on Saturday. Nebraska will look to stop the run and will probably load the box. The Cornhuskers will also try and takeaway Mitch Leidner’s favorite target in stud tight end Maxx Williams, so they will need someone else to step up. The 6-3, 226-pound wide out has the body and hands to possibly put up numbers and move the chains for the Gophers.

“Defensively, a name that many probably don’t know about, but is becoming a solid player for the Gophers up front is freshman defensive tackle Steven Richardson. The 6-0, 291-pound young defensive lineman has performed well and progressed over the season. His burst off the ball and his tenacity makes him one to watch as he battles in the trenches and tries to stop Ameer Abdullah.”

4.) Has there been any sort of common trend in the Gophers three losses to TCU, Illinois and Ohio State?
“The biggest problem I have noticed in Minnesota’s three losses this season is a couple things. The defense has been stout most of the season and ranks as the No. 22 overall defensive in the land by just giving up 22 points per game. However, they have given up some big plays and that has happened in their three losses. When it occurs, it seems to come in bunches, which is definitely not something you want. The other thing that has happened is that they have fallen behind early in all three games, which has resulted in them looking to throw the ball. Quarterback Mitch Leidner is a decent passer, but is not built to throw it around 20 times in a game. He performs the best in play action, but when he is in shotgun and goes straight back to throw, he is not at his best. The Gophers will have to look to avoid those things this week in order to win.”

5.) Your biggest key to the game and prediction?

“My biggest keys for this game is three things. First, who will win the turnover battle? That will be big because Minnesota likes to try and create turnovers even though they are not the best in the business at making that happen. Next, the Gophers need to be able to run the ball and get positive yardage. Will Nebraska step up this week against the run? Minnesota loves to control the clock and use as much time as possible to really dominate and keep that explosive Nebraska offense on the sideline. Lastly, what team will make that mistake on special teams? In a game where both teams are evenly matched, special teams can be crucial, so an error in that department could be very costly. I got Nebraska bouncing back in a tight one 24-17.”

Big Red Report Top Stories