Chuck Landon: Frohnapfel deserves more reps this week
Blake Frohnapfel needs to get meaningful snaps at quarterback on Saturday.
And the key word is ... meaningful.
That wasn't quite possible during Marshall's opening-season win over Miami (Ohio), 52-14, simply because the Herd's offense got off to such a slow start.
It is worth noting, however, that Marshall's backup quarterback was warming up on the sidelines after the Herd failed to produce a first down during the first quarter.
But star quarterback Rakeem Cato got the offense rolling, so Frohnapfel settled for mop-up duty during the final two possessions of the game.
That shouldn't be the case this week.
Since Marshall's opponent is Gardner-Webb at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Edwards Stadium, it should be no problem getting Frohnapfel plenty of playing time against the Football Championship Subdivision program.
That's Division I-AA for the old-school fans in the audience.
And, yes, that says it all.
Mostly, it says Frohnapfel should be wearing a helmet instead of a ballcap for at least half of the game.
Is that because Marshall should be able to handle Gardner-Webb much easier than West Virginia University's struggling win over FCS member William & Mary last week?
But there's another reason.
Frohnapfel should get meaningful snaps against Gardner-Webb because he deserves them. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound redshirt sophomore earned playing time with his eye-opening performance in Marshall's 65-59 double overtime loss at East Carolina in the 2012 finale.
When Cato was sidelined midway through the third quarter with a leg injury, Frohnapfel responded by completing 12 of 15 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed eight times for 62 yards, including a stunning 51-yard touchdown jaunt.
Ever since, Marshall coach Doc Holliday has commented repeatedly that the Herd needs to get the talented Frohnapfel into games and utilize his skill set.
Well, the future is now.
There's no better time to get Frohnapfel meaningful snaps than against Gardner-Webb on Saturday.
Right, Bill Legg?
"Blake is a good quarterback," said Marshall's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. "There's no question that Blake is a good quarterback.
"Would we do everything exactly the same as we do it with Cato? No, we wouldn't because they are two different types of guys. But Blake is a good quarterback."
Obviously, the Herd would emphasize its running game more with Frohnapfel at quarterback.
"We would have to fine-tune some things and fit some things that better suited him," said Legg. "But I have full trust that Blake would do a fantastic job if he was the guy on the field."
And he could be "the guy" for a lot of Football Bowl Subdivision programs in America.
"Yeah, I don't think there's a question," said Legg. "The kid is very intelligent. He's very tough both physically and mentally."
Let's take it a step further. I believe Frohnapfel is good enough to be the starting quarterback at the "other" FBS program in West Virginia as well as for such Conference USA members as Southern Miss, FIU, Tulane, FAU, Louisiana Tech and UTEP.
"There's no question about his ability," said Legg. "The kid is going to play here some day."
Some day soon, hopefully.
Like on Saturday.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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