When a team loses three games in a row the way Michigan has, major changes are necessary to right all the wrongs.
Heading into Michigan’s tilt versus Wisconsin on Saturday night, they were aware of how good Wisconsin’s defense is, they knew that any turnover could do major damage. Unfortunately for Michigan, their first two drives on offense ended with Joe Milton interceptions, both of which set Wisconsin up with good field position. Milton’s two interceptions led to 14 Wisconsin.
That's two interceptions for Joe Milton pic.twitter.com/207mFiyjgp— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) November 15, 2020
The Michigan offense had just 1-yard of total offense through the first quarter, and couldn’t get much going via run or pass. With U-M trailing 35-3 and showing little to no signs of life, backup quarterback Cade McNamara came into the game and gave Michigan a pulse.
McNamara completed his first 4 passes and led Michigan into the endzone:
- 23-yard pass to Ronnie Bell
- 28-yard pass to Nick Eubanks
- 23-yard touchdown to Mike Sainristil
- Two-point conversion to Giles Jackson
“I’d say probably from Cade’s standpoint, he was just fired up to get in there and take advantage of his opportunity,” WR Mike Sainristil said.
When asked about Michigan’s quarterback situation moving forward, head coach Jim Harbaugh said that they’re going to “re-evaluate all things, everything that we’re doing.”
It hasn’t been all Milton’s fault, but there’s no doubt the redshirt sophomore’s not seeing the field well. Milton’s been erratic with his accuracy and decision making. If everything is going to be evaluated, a fair and honest quarterback competition will be taking place this week and McNamara may solidify his case to be the starter against Rutgers. At 1-3, Michigan is a team with a bevy of issues to correct, and the play from the quarterback position has to improve.
Whomever is the starter next week, they’ll need help from their offensive line, running game, and receivers. Michigan hasn’t been able to generate a formidable rushing attack since Week 1, drops have been an issue for receivers and tight ends, and the offensive line has struggled in the trenches, getting beat way more often than they throw around the opponent. If these issues, along with certain shematics don’t improve, it won’t matter who the quarterback is. “Regardless of whoever’s in there, it’s our responsibility as an offense to make sure. Our o-line got to make sure both quarterbacks are protected, receivers gotta catch passes,” Sainristil said. “Whoever is out there, we have their back as an offense.”
McNamara, a former four-star prospect who had the most touchdown passes in Nevada high school history (139), was a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in the state and a player who received a lot of recognition nationally. Michigan recruited him for a reason. They believed in him.
McNamara’s sample size is way too small to evaluate the pros and cons to his game, but during a night where Michigan’s offense didn’t do anything well, he was a bright spot and gave the offense a pulse. Perhaps McNamara doing well will bring out the best in Joe Milton in practice this week and show the team he should still be leading the offense moving forward. Sometimes the threat of losing your job brings the best out of you. However, if Milton doesn’t make corrections in practice this week, McNamara may earn the chance to start.