“I’m really confident,” said sophomore safety Kavon Frazier Tuesday in preparation for this week’s game at UNLV (10 p.m. ET, Mountain West Network). “Having my second year under my belt really helps me play fast and with more confidence.
“It helps being in the right place to make plays.”
Call it what you want, being in the right place at the right time or picking up things on film – because Frazier admits to both – but the 6-foot, 213-pound safety has been incredibly productive through the first two games of the season. So has the Central Michigan secondary, which leads the Mid-American Conference with four interceptions.
He started it off at Michigan, with a fourth-quarter interception off Wolverines backup quarterback Shane Morris. While the game was out of reach it did wonders for his confidence, a guy who started twice at defensive back last season as a true freshman.
While quarterback Cooper Rush received much of the attention following CMU’s 24-21 come-from-behind win over New Hampshire on Saturday, it was Frazier who came up with a pair of crucial plays on defense that led to a pair of critical scores.
The Wildcats amassed 197 yards by halftime on Saturday, driving down the field with ease and having its way with CMU’s 4-2-5 zone defense. While they were able to continue racking up yards in the second half, the Chippewas came up with stops when they needed to — and Frazier was right in the middle of everything.
“We settled in,” said head coach Dan Enos of the defensive changes. “(NH) was like an option team. You simulate in practice, with our team trying to do it and our scout team trying to do it, and when you actually get out there and they’re doing it well and doing it fast, it takes a little time to adjust to it.”
Frazier picked off a pass from UNH backup quarterback Sean Goldrich in the middle of the third quarter, with the Wildcats leading by two scores and driving. The play also gave new life to a CMU offense that had failed to get on the scoreboard, compounded by a turnover on fourth-and-1 on the Wildcats’ 3-yard line the drive prior. Seven plays later, the Chippewas found the back of the end zone and cut UNH’s lead to 13-7.
He showed up on the stat sheet again in the fourth quarter, recovering a forced fumble by junior linebacker Justin Cherocci that led to the game-winning field goal by redshirt freshman Ron Coluzzi.
But things will have to improve this weekend, Frazier said. UNLV is a Mountain West Conference team playing against stiffer competition, and it might be a bit more difficult to come back should CMU fall behind early again.
“We’ve got to start early,” Frazier said. “Last week we started out soft and picked up in the second half. Their quarterback has a nice arm, he can throw … we’ve got to lock him down and stop the running backs.”
Turnovers and special teams, specifically interceptions, have killed the Rebels, who enter the game 0-2. Sophomore quarterback Nick Sherry is averaging 36 throws per game — he’s 41-for-72 for 337 yards and three touchdowns – but has already thrown four interceptions, three of which have been returned for touchdowns. Two came in UNLV’s 58-13 loss Saturday against Arizona.
This has Frazier chomping at the bit. Can he make it three interceptions in three games this Saturday?
“I’m going to try,” Frazier said.
Contact Aaron McMann: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AaronMcMann.