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MU football: Backup QB is making progress

HUNTINGTON - The redshirt is off Marshall quarterback Blake Frohnapfel's shoulders. His surgically repaired right shoulder is feeling better and he's ready to contribute this season.

Frohnapfel eased his way into college football in 2011, as Rakeem Cato and A.J. Graham traded the starting quarterback job. When Graham went down with a shoulder injury against Tulsa, Frohnapfel had a chance at playing if Cato had gotten hurt. But then the 6-foot-6, 225 pound freshmen underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery at the end of November.

Frohnapfel said he feels the difference between practicing last year and this year.

"For the most part, during the year and during camp, it was a chance to just get acclimated to everything," he said. "Now it's really where, if something happens, I'm the guy to go in and I have to prepare differently for that and watch extra film. They always say you're one play away."

"Last year, I was just so nervous all the time, because it was my first time out there," he added. "Now, if I had to go into a game, I'd be perfectly fine and comfortable."

Quarterbacks coach Tony Petersen said Frohnapfel is coming along well, especially considering the setbacks he faced last season.

"He didn't practice very much last year," Petersen said. "He was hurt a lot. He didn't practice, so he didn't get the reps. He got reps in the spring, but his arm was still coming off surgery. But he's where he belongs right now at his level."

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MARSHALL'S split-squad practice format, with half the team practicing in the morning and the other half practicing in the afternoon, is an idea Coach Doc Holliday took from his tenure as Florida's safeties coach and recruiting coordinator. Urban Meyer ran his early camp practices that way, and Holliday saw how effective it was.

"To each his own, but why someone wouldn't take that advantage to take that many reps, I don't know," he said. "I like what we're doing and there ain't a kid on this team that won't get coached for four days.

"Some of these guys heavily recruited out of high school, if you don't practice this way, they don't get coached," he added. "You can't get five, six or seven guys reps at each position."

Each session is a mix of youngsters and veterans, which Holliday said allows for older players to mentor newcomers at each practice. Frohnapfel said he loves the opportunity to get as many snaps as he has. It's a big difference from other programs whose players all practice at the same time and have to fight for limited opportunities.

"(The format) gives everyone a chance to learn the offense that way," Frohnapfel said. "During the season, we're pretty much limited to two quarterbacks and, if you're not on the two-deep anywhere, you're not going to get that many reps."

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WITH ONLY two quarterbacks in each session, Petersen and running backs coach JaJuan Seider have stepped in during seven-on-seven drills to take a few snaps.

That's not too shabby for a pair of stand-ins, considering Petersen was the 1988 Southern Conference Athlete of the Year as Marshall's quarterback and Seider was the 1999 MEAC Offensive Player of the Year as Florida A&M's quarterback.

But it does have both coaches reaching for the ice packs.

"That's not what you want because it makes his arm hurt and it makes my arm hurt, and you wish you had more quarterbacks out there," Petersen said with a laugh.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.


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