Heading into fall camp, I assumed that Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh would eventually name Cade McNamara as the Wolverines’ Week 1 starting quarterback over J.J. McCarthy, and I was ok with that, even though my belief was that McCarthy was the more talented signal caller, especially from a physical standpoint.
After all, McNamara did lead Michigan to a 12-2 record in 2021, including a win over Ohio State, and a win over Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game, which vaulted the Wolverines into the College Football Playoffs for the first time in school history.
Well, Harbaugh did eventually name McNamara as the Week 1 starter against Colorado State but he also named McCarthy as the starter for Michigan’s Week 2 matchup vs. Hawaii, meaning that the Wolverines’ quarterback competition was officially being extended into the regular season.
Michigan’s starting QB job is now J.J. McCarthy’s to lose
On Saturday, Cade McNamara did get the start for Michigan but he left much to be desired and when J.J. McCarthy got into the game, he was, absolutely electric with the football.
During the Wolverines’ 51-7 victory, McNamara was a very pedestrian 9-of-18 for 136 yards and a touchdown to go along with zero interceptions (one interception was dropped) as the offense had to settle for field goals on multiple occasions (four red zone drives and just one touchdown)
“I missed a couple targets,” McNamara said after his team’ 51-7 pummeling of Colorado State. “We had a couple drops. I don’t know. It looked like a first game, I felt like, on the offensive side of the ball.”
After tossing what easily could have been an interception, McNamara was clearly frustrated with himself, which is completely understandable, but the way he clenched his fists makes one wonder if he is feeling the pressure of having to fight for the starting QB spot.
McCarthy, on the other hand, was flawless in his brief amount of action as he was 4-for-4 for 30 yards but what was extremely impressive was that he ran the ball three times for 50 yards, including a touchdown run that looked like he was on a different speed setting than anyone else on the field.
“I thought things were operating really smoothly in the first half,” Harbaugh said. “But I finally said, ‘Ah, let’s get J.J. in there.’ And he was electric when he got in. No question about that. I thought that he also went through his reads very well. It was great to see him just play real super calm, cool, collected.”
“I don’t think anybody laid a hand on him,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got that electric type of ability when he’s running with the football. I thought he acquitted himself really well.”
Folks, if Jim Harbaugh truly believed the Michigan QB battle between Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy was truly “neck-and-neck” heading into Week 1, I would venture to say that McCarthy has now pulled ahead in a race that is just about over.
McCarthy will get the start next Saturday night against Hawaii and as long as he keeps playing solid football, and making “electric” plays, the Michigan starting QB job will be his.