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J.J. McCarthy talks Joe Burrow’s influence on his game

You can’t go wrong aspiring to be like Joe Burrow.

NCAA Football: UNLV at Michigan David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy has been outstanding through Michigan’s first two games of the season. McCarthy has gone a combined 48-of-55 for 558 yards with five passing touchdowns. McCarthy’s put up these stats without playing in the fourth quarter both weeks.

After Michigan’s 35-7 win over UNLV McCarthy was asked what quarterback he patterned himself after in high school — his answer was Joe Burrow.

“Joe all the way,” McCarthy said. "He’s been my guy since he got at LSU. When he had that year I knew he was gonna it just proved me right. Joe was definitely my guy then, and now.”

Burrow led LSU to a National Championship in 2019 and had arguably the best season a collegiate QB has ever had. In 2019, Burrow was first in FBS history in total yards of offense (6,039), first in FBS history in most touchdowns responsible for in a season (65), and first in SEC history in completion percentage in a season (76.3 percent). Burrow would then go on to be drafted No. 1 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft and narrowly lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl 23-20 in February of 2022. Burrow’s as good of a player as McCarthy could model parts of his game and temperament after.

This isn’t the first time McCarthy’s spoke glowingly about Burrow, he truly has always been his guy. Last season McCarthy said he wanted scramble like Burrow did at LSU. Burrow was often able to extend plays by scooting to the boundaries to extend plays and throw downfield or run for crucial yards.

“I keep saying week to week that I need to use my legs more and it’s in situations like that,” McCarthy said after Michigan’s 41-17 win over Penn State last year. “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.”

Fast-forward to present day and it appears McCarthy has enhanced his football IQ, footwork in the pocket, his arsenal of touch and power throws, and more. Then there’s McCarthy’s elite speed for the QB position and ability to make the extraordinary look routine with his arm and legs alike.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh said in July that McCarthy is a once in a generation type quarterback at Michigan, and the fact McCarthy sets the bar for himself at Joe Burrow is the least bit surprising.