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Dylan McCaffrey positioning himself to be backup QB for the long haul

Has McCaffrey solidified his spot at No. 2 in the QB pecking order?

NCAA Football: Michigan at Notre Dame Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Going into the Notre Dame game, Brandon Peters was Michigan’s No. 2 quarterback.

But that changed during the week before the ND game when Peters tweaked his knee on a rollout. If anything would happen to Shea Patterson, Dylan McCaffrey would be the one coming in.

During the second half against Notre Dame, cramping took Patterson out of the game for multiple drives.

Enter McCaffrey.

It wasn’t the most ideal of debuts for McCaffrey. With Michigan down in the game, facing a hostile environment on the road, McCaffrey had to get something churning for the Wolverine offense.

While McCaffrey didn’t net Michigan any points, he did move the chains while he was in, going 4-6 for 22 yards and rushing three times for 10 yards.

The stats weren’t anything to jump up and down in excitement about, but he looked poised in there nonetheless. And McCaffrey showed his toughness on one run, where he was absolutely leveled (pic below).

NCAA Football: Michigan at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

After the game, Jim Harbaugh was proud of how his young QB performed, saying “I thought Dylan played real well. Showed some real moxie in there and ran the offense, made some good throws. Coming in off the bench like that, I thought it was -- I thought he acquitted himself really well.”

Enter Week 2. Michigan is up big against Western Michigan, it’s time for the backup QB to get some reps. Harbaugh has another decision to make, does he put in Peters (who is now healthy)? Or does he roll with McCaffrey?

“Decision was based on, going into the Notre Dame game, Brandon had something that he was working through, but he was good this week. And I felt Dylan, honestly, had a good week of practice and can stay the backup quarterback this week,” Harbaugh said.

With limited chances to use his arm and legs against WMU, McCaffrey made the most of his snaps. On his lone pass attempt, McCaffrey threw an 18-yard TD pass to Jake McCurry. He also carried the ball twice for 8 yards.

“He’s got a real coolness about him when he’s out there playing,” Harbaugh said after the game. “I see it on the sidelines when I’m calling the plays. And watching him execute, it’s good.”

On the year to this point, McCaffrey is 5-7 for 40-yards and a touchdown. It’s the smallest of sample sizes of in game action, but the evidence on the practice field might be stacking up in his favor.

It’s as simple as this; if McCaffrey continues to practice well, he will remain the backup quarterback.

Harbaugh’s decision to put in McCaffrey against Western Michigan was telling. McCaffrey very well may have pulled away in the competition to be the No. 2 QB for Michigan. We’ll find out as soon as this Saturday if Michigan blows out SMU at The Big House and there’s an opportunity to bring in the backup.

For Michigan’s sake, though, they don’t want to see him on the field too much this season. That would mean their starting quarterback, who has shown a lot of promise through two games, went down with an injury.