Heading into a night game at Michigan Stadium against Bowling Green, Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy was one of the hottest quarterbacks in the nation. Through two games McCarthy was 48-of-55 for 558 yards with five passing touchdowns.
McCarthy’s third game of the season didn’t go as well. In Michigan’s 31-6 win over Bowling Green McCarthy threw three interceptions. McCarthy threw just two interceptions in 12 regular season games in 2022. While McCarthy would go on to throw two interceptions against TCU in the Fiesta Bowl (that were returned for touchdowns), he’s often more careful than perceived with the football. That just wasn’t the case on Saturday night, where he was 8-of-13 for 143 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
One of McCarthy’s interceptions was on a pass to the box of the end zone, another he forced deep downfield, his third was picked along the sideline. After the game, McCarthy took accountability for the turnovers.
“I’m going to take all those on the chin, put them all on me,” McCarthy said. “There’s a lot of stuff that didn’t go my way, didn’t go the offenses way.”
McCarthy was not pleased with himself, but at the same time he’s embracing fixing what went wrong.
“I can’t wait to watch the tape and see the mistakes that were made and get better from it, honestly,” McCarthy said. “I’m gonna take all those on the chin. They were on me.”
Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore called McCarthy’s performance a “learning experience” and something “he’ll definitely get better from”.
There’s something McCarthy’s already learned from. On his third interception of the day, he did it on a pass he was attempting to throw away. McCarthy didn’t get enough power on his throw and it was low enough for Avi McGarvy to leap for a great interception.
McCarthy said he’s done the same thing in practice, where he throws it “too close”.
“This one’s gonna be a perfect lesson to learn from,” McCarthy said. “And it’s never gonna happen again.”
McCarthy mentioned when he was struggling and came back to the sideline the whole team tried to pick him up. In turn, McCarthy’s main focus is picking his play up, or getting back to how he performed the first two weeks of the season.
Running back Blake Corum says players learn something new every game. And McCarthy is bound to learn. It’s good McCarthy’s learning meaningful things to correct before Michigan faces the toughest teams on their schedule. There’s never a good time to throw three interceptions, but if it was bound to happen at one point or another, it’s better it occurs in a 31-6 win before their Big Ten portion of the schedule begins. Nip it in the bud so it doesn’t cost you later.
McCarthy’s shown noticeable improvements this season with progressions, he’s mixing up power and touch throws and has more freedom to change protections and check out of plays at the line of scrimmage. Which made a few of his decisions all the more surprising in this one.
The good news for Michigan is McCarthy’s a forward-thinking individual who aspires to live in the present and not dwell on the past, whether it was good or bad. By the time Michigan’s tilt against Rutgers next Saturday is over we’ll have a firm grasp on what McCarthy learned from his performance against Bowling Green.