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Marshall football: Frohnapfel feels arm strength is improving

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- The month of April ushers in baseball season, and the Marshall football program is going through its version of spring training this month, so it seems apropos to treat Blake Frohnapfel like a pitcher.

"He's on a pitch count," Herd offensive coordinator Bill Legg said. "The problem is if he's only allowed to throw 'X' number of throws and you've got to count the throws in warmups, you've got to be careful because you don't want to use up all your throws.

"But, of course, if you don't warm him up enough then he's not throwing with the velocity he needs. It's a feeling out process, sometimes."

Frohnapfel, a 6-foot-6, 229-pound redshirt freshman quarterback, is recovering from surgery that repaired a torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder. He had the operation Nov. 28, two days after the conclusion of the Thundering Herd's 2011 regular season.

At the outset of spring drills, Frohnapfel said he hoped to be throwing by the end of the 15 allotted practices.

He did plenty of that during Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage, the team's ninth practice through three weeks.

The Colonial Forge, Va., native completed 23-of-31 passes for 156 yards on an array of screen passes. Occasionally he tried to put some oomph on throws and get them beyond the first-down marker, but the elation of moving the chains and his tolerance for pain is a battle he'd rather not wage yet.

"The throws are still pretty short, but the arm is still getting there," Frohnapfel said after the 111-play morning scrimmage at Edwards Stadium. "I'm way ahead of schedule throwing and I'm feeling better.

"Sometimes, it hurts."

Frohnapfel completed nine of his first 10 pass attempts - all of which were on called screens.

"I have those down," he said with a laugh. "I'm good with those."

His accuracy waned in the latter part of the scrimmage when the throws increased in difficulty and his tolerance for pain decreased.

More than one throw wobbled.

"Toward the end, that's kind of all I had left," Frohnapfel said. "That's the most throws I've had in six months, really."

Frohnapfel sat out last season as a redshirt, but he was elevated from fourth-string quarterback to primary backup for the final two games of the regular season. He was one heartbeat from burning that redshirt, but Rakeem Cato stayed healthy and Frohnapfel had surgery the Monday after the final game.

He sat out the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl and, along with incumbent starter Cato, is one of two scholarship quarterbacks the Herd has this spring.

"I'm way ahead of schedule from where I should be," Frohnapfel said. "Some of the throws I have to try and pump it in there and it hurts.

"It's getting there, but it's not as fast as I'd like it to be."

*  *  *

CATO SPENT one play Saturday moonlighting as a receiver.

The 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore was several yards behind the line of scrimmage watching Frohnapfel run the offense when he noticed some confusion among the receivers.

The Herd had two available slot receivers - Andre Booker and Chris Alston - but there was a miscommunication about which pass-catcher needed to be on the field.

Cato raced to the line of scrimmage and lined up at receiver.

"I tried to line up so there wouldn't be 10 men on the field," Cato said. "I tried to do a little something."

His teammates claim Cato could pull off the transition.

"Cato, you know, he knows the system," Booker said. "I've seen Cato throughout the week studying his playbook. That's what we need from a quarterback - to be dedicated and committed.

"He knows the whole offense. I'm sure he knows the defense as well. He is a quarterback who is a player, not a position."

*  *  *

THE HERD offense leaned on running backs Martin Ward (16 carries, 28 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Kevin Rodriguez (23 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD) because freshman Remi Watson was out with a bum left shoulder.

Watson was injured in last Thursday's practice.

Junior tight end C.J. Crawford also missed Saturday's scrimmage with a left knee injury. He was seen on crutches with his left knee in a brace.

Booker and Alston combined for 19 receptions and 178 yards because the team's two other slot receivers - Tommy Shuler and Jermaine Kelson - were unavailable.

Shuler, a Miami native, returned to Florida for personal reasons. Kelson is out with an injury.

Contact Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.


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