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Marshall notebook: Frohnapfel shows mobility in Herd scrimmage

HUNTINGTON - No, it wasn't Tim Tebow making a play fake and bouncing off defenders at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. But there was a No. 15 playing quarterback running a little like Tebow.

OK, just a little. But Blake Frohnapfel showed he isn't a pass-from-the-pocket statue.

Frohnapfel's adventures were some of the highlights in Marshall's officiated scrimmage Saturday as coaches pulled the no-contact red jersey off of him. Playing with the second unit, as he has all month, the 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman was fair game for the defense.

Coaches wanted him exposed to contact for the first time since high school, and Frohnapfel was eager to take his first collegiate hits. He was told last Monday this was possible, and the defense got downwind of it as well.

Still, Frohnapfel ran for 48 yards on five carries, with a 10-yard touchdown.

"You could kind of tell [defenders] were like, 'We do hit him, right?' " Frohnapfel said. "They were all talking trash all week, saying, 'Wait 'til Saturday, wait 'til Saturday.' It was fun to come out here."

Frohnapfel's frolicking was one of the offensive highlights of an otherwise sluggish day for that side. Five offensive touchdowns were scored, but all came deep in the situational scrimmage when drives started in the defensive end.

Those of the few hundred Big Green donors and students who hung around long enough got to see offensive coordinator Bill Legg light into his troops. With practice not resuming until Monday, their ear will ring the rest of the weekend.

"He was on us, telling us we looked slow out there," said receiver Aaron Dobson. "We didn't run a fast-paced offense like we normally do, in the last couple of practices we had. We had a step backward today; we can't have any more of those."

Accordingly, the defense looked a little better than it did a week earlier. Offensive yardage was shaved from 6.1 yards per play to 5.3, and the defense picked off two passes and recorded three sacks.

Cornerback Derrick Thomas and linebacker Cortez Carter had the interceptions, and Carter receives unofficial credit for an 86-yard touchdown return (a whistle stopped the runback).

"I don't know what the stats are about, but I saw a lot of [defenders] running around, making plays. I saw a corner go make a play," said MU coach Doc Holliday. "Until you see the tape, you don't know exactly how well we played, but for the most part they tackled well and they played good." 

Holliday did temper that assessment, pointing to the scrimmage's format. On the first two possessions, the offense crossed midfield and was driving for a score when stopped by the script, not the defense.

Both the first and second strings - led by starting quarterback Rakeem Cato and then Frohnapfel - were involved.

"We're trying to do some things we wanted to see, so regardless we went eight plays and stopped them and turned them around," Holliday said. "You can't read a whole lot in the number of touchdowns - we scored about eight down [on short fields] in about two series.

"For the first time with Conference USA officials, it was pretty clean, but there are a few things we need to make adjustments on. The two-minute drill [with both Cato and Frohnapfel] with officials, I thought that was good. And then both of the kickers went in there and won it on field goals, so that was good to see."

The Herd offense gained 164 yards on 41 attempts, including negative yardage on sacks. Cato, Frohnapfel and Gunnar Holcombe combined to go 33 of 49 for 315 yards. There were no fumbles.

There wasn't a passing touchdown, but there were a few good catches. Craig Wilkins snagged eight passes for 89 yards, including a nice one-handed 17-yarder that victimized cornerback Monterius Lovett.

Defensively, Alex Bazzie continued to press his case to start at defensive end, recording two tag "sacks, " giving him five in two scrimmages. Brandon Sparrow had two tackles for loss and a sack.

Kicking was shown off a bit, with Justin Haig going 3-for-4 and Trent Martin 4-for-5 on field goals. Tyler Williams finished a booming week of punting with arcing shots that traveled 65 and 56 yards in the air. (Alas, his next was 36 yards, and he didn't do well on a "coffin corner" try.)

  • BRIEFLY: Most of the players held out had been held out or limited during the week, such as linebacker Billy Mitchell, tight end C.J. Crawford, linebacker Devin Arrington, running backs Travon Van and Tron Martinez, etc. New noticeable absences: receiver Tommy Shuler (strep throat) and running back Remi Watson ("dinged a little bit," Holliday said). ... Practice resumes Monday and will be closed to the public from here on out. By then, a lot of decisions concerning first string, second string and beyond will be made. "Prior to going into it, I felt there were some young guys that had to play well to get on the bus," Holliday said.
  • Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.

     


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