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J.J. McCarthy wants to use his legs like Joe Burrow at LSU

McCarthy talks about Burrow’s 2019 Heisman season and what he can learn from it as a running QB.

Penn State v Michigan Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is one heck of a pro and narrowly lost the Super Bowl in February. Burrow wore a big knee brace last season after recovering from a torn ACL in 2020. Burrow’s just starting to use his legs again to get outside of the pocket to extend plays. However, it wasn’t long ago that Burrow’s mobility was an asset.

After Michigan’s 41-17 win over Penn State on Saturday afternoon quarterback J.J. McCarthy was asked about if him running more on third down situations was by design in the game. McCarthy mentioned Joe Burrow and what he accomplished as a runner at LSU.

“I keep saying week to week that I need to use my legs more and it’s in situations like that. You go back to the 2019 season with Joe Burrow and everything he was able to do with that, and I’m faster than Joe Burrow, so I should be able to do it at a more effective level,” McCarthy said with a grin.

Burrow won the Heisman and a National Championship at LSU in 2019, and he was known to use his legs when he needed them. Burrow rushed for 368 yards and five touchdowns during the championship campaign. Through seven games, McCarthy is up to 147 rushing yards and one touchdown.

Defenses will need to keep an eye on McCarthy in the weeks to come, the 19-year-old quarterback is getting more comfortable in the read-option game. McCarthy is also consistently evading pass-rushers, and while McCarthy is showing he’s a pass-first quarterback, it’s also obvious he can scoot when the team really needs a big play. McCarthy converted two third downs on runs, and those conversions are huge in crucial games like the one on Saturday that ended in a blowout.

“Being able to capitalize on those opportunities when they’re not having eyes on me and they’re covering downfield well,” McCarthy said. “Being able to add that to the offense and contribute in any way.”

While McCarthy passed for a modest 145 yards, his 57 yards on the ground were quite helpful to the operation.

McCarthy mentioning Burrow was an interesting point. LSU like rolling the pocket to the right so Burrow could throw bootleg passes or take off and run. As the season rolls along we’ll continue to see Michigan steadily cater to the strengths of McCarthy’s game. And his speed is a definitive strongsuit.