Herd quarterbacks on quest
HUNTINGTON -- After a Conference USA Most Valuable Player season, Marshall University quarterback Rakeem Cato could just take it easy during the spring.
He knows his abilities and the offense. His coaches know what he can do and most of his teammates watched his exploits last season as he led Marshall to the sixth-ranked offense nationally.
Instead of taking a spring break, Cato is one of the most intense individuals at practice.
It's all part of his competitive nature, but there is another factor involved -- that being backup quarterback Blake Frohnapfel.
Cato knows that Frohnapfel is going to bring his best each day, and isn't about to sit back and let someone out-work him.
Such was the case in Saturday's scrimmage when the offense was stagnant throughout the early part before Frohnapfel engineered a pair of touchdown drives in the middle of the session.
Almost on cue, Cato sprung to action and got into a rhythm on his own.
Following the session, Cato credited Frohnapfel for helping to get him going.
"He came with his 'A' game like he always does, and we're just pushing each other to be the best," Cato said.
On the surface, the two look like they couldn't be any more different.
Cato is a 6-foot, 184-pound quarterback who looks like he would be a scrambler, but is most comfortable in the pocket or using his feet to buy time to get throws off.
Frohnapfel is a 6-6, 230-pound signal-caller who looks the part of a pocket passer, but he's proven that he is more than able to take off with his feet and lower the boom on unsuspecting defensive backs if they aren't prepared.
In addition to the different physical makeups, their demeanors are also somewhat different.
Cato is the uber-intense quarterback who gets his blood flowing by getting after the defense when he makes a play on them.
Frohnapfel is the quiet, laid-back, jokester who keeps his cool no matter the situation.
Almost in a joking manner, Frohnapfel said he's trying to become more Cato-esque in terms of talking to the defense.
"When I first got here, I was silent," Frohnapfel said. "I'd throw a touchdown and I'd walk off like 'I can't believe I didn't mess up.' You get a little more comfortable and little more confident and you start talking a little more."
Despite their differences, one thing is undeniable about the two -- their passion for football and winning.
That has provided for a solid relationship that has translated to success for the Herd offense.
"Going on our third year now together, we have a very good relationship in the quarterback room," Frohnapfel said. "We are always pushing each other because we are the same age and came in the same class. That's something that's helped us. If I see something, I'll say 'Hey Cato, look at that read' and he does the same for me. We have a very good relationship in that way and kind of help push each other to give each other the juice."
That juice came to fruition in the regular-season finale last year when the Herd fell in a 65-59 double-overtime thriller to East Carolina.
Cato led the Herd back from a 35-14 deficit with 5:00 left in the second quarter to tying the game at 35 just four minutes into the third quarter en route to a 31-of-40 performance that went for 318 yards and five touchdowns.
What's more impressive is that he did that in just three quarters of action.
Cato was injured late in the third quarter and tried to come back, but was unable to protect himself in the pocket.
Frohnapfel came in and engineered the offense beautifully as he finished 12-of-15 for 101 yards and a touchdown while adding a 51-yard touchdown run that gave Marshall its first lead at 45-42 with 11:12 left.
Even though the game ended in a loss, everyone took note -- especially Marshall head coach Doc Holliday.
Now, Holliday is looking at adding special packages to get Frohnapfel more involved in the offense.
It is something that was seen at Florida in 2006 when Chris Leak and Tim Tebow shared the field as quarterbacks in the Gators' national championship run. Holliday was safeties coach during that season.
"It's great to have Fro there and we're going to do some more things with him, too, that we've got to get in the rest of spring," Holliday said. "We'll have a package for him because he deserves to play and he will play."
Regardless of how many plays a game that entails, the demeanor in practice will remain the same.
Marshall's quarterbacks are currently trumping the old adage that states "if you have two quarterbacks, that means you have none."
And together, they are leading Marshall's quest to be the best in Conference USA.
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