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Jim Harbaugh says J.J. McCarthy’s ‘smart enough’ to learn from interceptions

Jim Harbaugh evaluates J.J. McCarthy’s three-interception performance against Bowling Green.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan Joe Rondone/The Republic

J.J. McCarthy had a game on Saturday night in which he said a lot of stuff didn’t go his way. McCarthy was 8-of-13 for 143 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in Michigan’s 31-6 win over Bowling Green.

McCarthy said he’s going to take those interceptions “on the chin” and said, “put them all on me.”

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was asked about McCarthy’s interceptions, his first three of the season. Harbaugh started out by mentioning how good McCarthy was through Michigan’s first two games, where he completed 48-of-55 passes for 558 yards and five passing touchdowns.

“We were comparing touchdowns to incompletions ratio, we weren’t talking touchdowns to interceptions because there hadn’t been any,” Harbaugh said. “There’s no way that’s gonna continue. It’s not gonna to happen that way.”

Harbaugh noted that the law of averages were bound to catch up to McCarthy after being scary good.

When it comes to the interceptions themselves, Harbaugh wants McCarthy to balance his confidence with making smart decisions.

“There’s some things as a player — you want confident, you want aggressive, optimistic where everything's gonna work out,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a little bit of sometimes even as a football player optimistic bias, that can get you in trouble. Sometimes leaves you unprepared.”

Harbaugh said “some precautions got to be taken and some risks avoided” but is confident McCarthy will only improve from the experience.

“Turnovers, ball security. That’s the big one, Harbaugh said. “Plenty to learn from, plenty to coach and I’m super excited about it. J.J. is smart enough to know he didn’t play a very good game, but he’s also smart enough to know that he can learn from it as well.”

Harbaugh said it’s important for McCarthy “see the throw, see the completion” and also being in a good base with his footwork. Harbaugh, a former quarterback, feels a QB doesn’t learn as much when a play has a positive outcome and the QB didn’t have proper eye discipline of footwork. However, it’s when a QB doesn’t have the right footwork or eye discipline and bad things happen when a player really learns the fundamentals.

“Now it’s seared into your brain,” Harbaugh said. “You learn more from the mistakes.”

McCarthy’s three interception performance came in the last game of Jim Harbaugh’s three-game suspension to start the season. If and when McCarthy struggles again Harbaugh’s presence will be there on the sideline to greet him and help him get through any mistake and support him through each triumph. McCarthy wore a “Free Harbaugh” shirt before and after Michigan’s season opener and at the postgame presser he said he just wanted his coach back. Well, now Harbaugh is back on gamedays here forth and McCarthy will be all the better for it.

McCarthy will be looking to get back on track this Saturday at Michigan Stadium against Rutgers, Michigan’s first Big Ten Conference matchup of the season. Per DraftKings Sportsbook, Michigan’s currently a 24-point favorite over Rutgers.

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