Offensive lineman are the true unsung heroes on the football field — their successes generally go unnoticed and without fanfare, but their mistakes are usually amplified with penalty flags and slow motion replays.
West Virginia center Zach Frazier learned this firsthand against Oklahoma on Saturday. As his team was driving down the field in a potentially game-winning series, the sophomore made two consecutive grave mistakes — a snap infraction and a bad snap — which killed the drive and took the Mountaineers out of field goal range. WVU was forced to punt, giving Oklahoma the chance at a game-winning drive.
Suddenly, the Mountaineers’ center was getting more attention than ever before, and it wasn’t positive. In between plays, ABC’s cameras zeroed in on Frazier, who looked on as the Sooners marched into field goal position. The Fairmont native was noticeably upset with his last drive in Norman.
“There’s not a whole lot of correcting to it,” said head coach Neal Brown. “It was a bad play, he only had one other bad snap the whole game. He thought the quarterback asked for the ball and he didn’t, and that’s kind of what it is.”
Even his fellow offensive linemen came to his immediate support.
“When he did make that mistake, we all just talked to each other and were like, you know what, it was just one mistake, and we can go back and keep trying again,” said left tackle Brandon Yates. “But Zach Frazier is a really good player, and I know he’s going to bounce back for sure.”
When the bad snap occurred, WVU had mustered just 67 yards on the ground and 13 points. Yates added that the offensive line takes group accountability for mistakes, and there was likely more they could have done in the game to prevent them from even being in that position.
Likewise, Brown made sure not to focus on those two snaps. The Mountaineers ran 63 plays on offense, but just those two from Frazier will stick out in the minds of fans. In fact, of those 63 snaps, Brown said that 59 were “pretty good.”
“Zach Frazier played his a– off…he did, he played well. Here’s what I tell our guys — Zach Frazier is, if not our hardest worker, he probably is but he’s in the conversation not to hurt anybody else’s feelings. He’s the most prepared, he’s one of our best practice players. He does everything that gives you an opportunity to perform well on Saturday night….He’s playing against some really, really good players in there and I thought he did a great job.”
Those two bad plays did not shake Brown’s confidence of Frazier whatsoever.
“Zach Frazier, over the course of the next three-and-a-half years, I’ll take him every single time in that situation, in that kind of moment,” Brown said. “He’ll learn from it, and he’ll move on.”