To say the UMass Minutemen craved a surge on offense going into 2014 would be a complete understatement. Ranking 113th in the nation in passing yards, the MAC representatives passed for a dismal 156.4 yards per contest in 2013.
Like a genie emerging from a gold-plated bottle, UMass’s wish was granted this past season with quarterback Blake Frohnapfel.
Earning his undergraduate degree at Marshall University and backing up prolific quarterback Rakeem Cato, Frohnapfel had multiple years of eligibility remaining and took his talents to Massachusetts. To claim he had a successful initial season wearing the respected maroon, white, and black would also an understatement.
All the 6’6″ gunslinger out of Stafford, Virginia did was boost his offense to 11th nationally via the passing game with 3,345 yards and 23 touchdowns. I had a chance to chat with the 1st-Team All-MAC quarterback.
A drastic change in offense from 2013 to 2014, it’d be smoke and mirrors to say you weren’t a substantial part. How were you able to impact the offense so much this season?
BF: The offense that we run is a very multiple offense and can give a defense a hard time in lining up to it. I was able to win the job as the starter in fall camp and having coach Mark Whipple’s offense made my job very easy. Having such a strong supporting cast, guys like Jean Sifrin, who just left early for the draft, can make a huge difference for a new quarterback like myself.
Your brother, Eric, plays a hybrid receiver/tight-end for Marshall, where you both played on the same team. Now that you’re at a different school, is there any friendly, brotherly competition between you two?
BF: In terms of competition with my brother, there isn’t much at all when it comes to football. I want whats best for him and vice versa and we never really competed in that regard. We were always each others biggest fan. When it comes to other activities like basketball or playing video games, thats a whole different story.
Your go-to receiver Tajae Sharp really shifted his play to another gear to end the season, recording 100 yards or more in four out of the last eight games. How has the maturity and, most importantly, the communication between the two of you translated to play on the field?
BF: I have always said that the reason why Tajae Sharpe is so good is that the way he practices is the same way he plays. He is obviously a very good athlete, but he is a high motor guy as well and certainly made my job much easier. At first, we were both just trying to learn the nuisances of the offense, but once things started to click for us, we were really able to put up some points.
What can fans expect from the UMass offense once the 2015 campaign begins?
BF: Although we had a very successful year in terms of offensive output, there were still many plays to be made. We know we have to become more balanced as an offense and we are excited for the spring to further improve.
What’s the best nickname you’ve ever received?
BF: The nickname that everyone on the team calls me is “Blizzy.” It started when I was at Marshall and once a few guys at UMass found out about it, it sort of stuck.
What’s your favorite place to eat in town or on campus?
BF: The best place to eat in town is probably Johnny’s Tavern. They have a variety of different dishes, but they are all very good. If you are ever in Amherst, I suggest you try it.
Who is your funniest teammate?
BF: My funniest teammate is probably Ross Comis. I spend alot of time with the other quarterbacks and he is always cracking me up. He makes it hard to keep the meeting room serious.
What is your biggest pet peeve on the field?
BF: In terms of my biggest pet peeve on the field is probably missing really easy throws. There were a couple this year where you make the throw 1,000 times in practice, but I would miss it in the game and it just makes you want to tear your hair out.
Who wins in a fist-fight between you and Eric?
BF: I honestly think it is pretty equal with him. We are both around 6’6″ 240 so there isn’t much of a physical advantage for anyone. The winner would probably be whoever was more mad at the time. I’m probably a little more competitive than him, but he has a wrestling background so he causes me some problems with that.