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"I figured I had to do it quick," he grinned. "I knew I wouldn't be in there long enough to do it the slow way."
Against Illinois in the fourth game of the season Cox got his next chance and caught on fire. He scored two touchdowns, and his passing set up the winning field goal in the late seconds of a game that Minnesota won 16-13. The next week, in the Little Brown Jug Game against Michigan, Bobby ran for two more touchdowns and put on the most spectacular one-man show of the 1956 Big Ten season as the Gophers bowled over their traditional foe 20-7.
Minnesota's 7-0 loss to Iowa (along with two ties) cost the team the Big Ten title, which has eluded Minnesota since 1941, and a trip to the Rose Bowl. But it was still a wonderful year for Bobby Cox. He led Minnesota in scoring and was one of the conference standouts in total offense with 793 yards. Cox, confident and even brash, has several great assets as a player. He is an outstanding runner, and the split T offense that Warmath has installed at Minnesota fits Cox's ballcarrying ability. He has good speed and balance, follows blockers well and picks his way nicely through a broken field. And when the going gets tough, Bobby doesn't mind ducking his head and driving. "He's got guts," says Bill Murphy, who coaches the Gophers' backfield.
Cox is also a fine passer, poised and accurate up to 30 yards and one of the best long passers in the country. But if there is one thing that places him above every other quarterback in the land, it is his ability to lift his ball club and get it moving under the most disheartening conditions.
"I don't know what it is exactly," says Bobby. "It's just that football, to me, is about the most wonderful thing there is. I can't think of anyplace in the world I'd rather be than out there playing before 65,000 people."
"It's his enthusiasm," says Larson, who has been called a steadier quarterback but who knows that he will never have Bobby's dynamic and spectacular flair. "He gets all excited, and then the team gets excited, and first thing you know the people in the stands are all excited too."
Unfortunately, the 1957 Gophers, who went into the season with 27 lettermen and were considered virtual co-favorites with Michigan State in the Big Ten, frequently appear incapable of getting very excited about anything. They outclassed Washington and Northwestern, but they had to struggle to nose out Purdue. Then, before a national television audience on Oct. 19, they suffered humiliation at the hands of an Illinois team they were favored to beat by two to three touchdowns. Against Michigan the following week, they seemed to collapse completely. With that defeat almost certainly went Minnesota's last chance at the Rose Bowl.
However, few feel that the fault lies with Cox. He has still been brilliant. Bobby led the way past Washington and Northwestern, although it was Larson who saved the game with Purdue. And against Illinois, after the backfield had fumbled and stumbled for three quarters and the slow-footed Gophers line turned out to be full of holes, Bobby averted a shutout by waving the others aside and in five plays moving the ball 74 yards to a touchdown all by himself.
Even should Bobby Cox fail to become Minnesota's first All-America quarterback since McGovern, he will still consider himself a very fortunate young man. His wife, Sue, an ex-model with a degree in art education, is expecting a baby this winter. They have friends and a family, a new car and a nice apartment, and Bobby is making good grades in school. He will graduate in June with a degree in speech. "I'll probably play pro ball with either the Los Angeles Rams or Winnipeg in the Canadian League," says Cox. "And when that's over, at least I'll have a name, and people will know me. I guess that's what we're all after.
"A lot of people think I've had a pretty rough life. Well, I don't agree. I think I've had a lot of fun, don't you?"