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Harbaugh calls McNamara’s performance ‘gritty’, says shoulder tightened up

The injury to McNamara’s shoulder impacted his performance in a major way.

Penn State v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara was making the first start of his career on Saturday against Penn State. After an inspiring effort during Michigan’s comeback win against Rutgers, the offense appeared to be on the right trajectory with McNamara. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned.

McNamara injured his shoulder early in the game against Penn State. He had to leave the field and head up the tunnel to get treatment. Joe Milton came into the game for a couple drives to relieve McNamara before McNamara found his way back into the game. When McNamara came back in, the limitations he had throwing the ball became evident. He was grimacing at times, he was trying his damnedest to battle, but he didn’t have the ability to fight at the level required. “It was a gritty performance by him,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game. “That’s a tough kid. A lot of respect for Cade coming back. Very gutty. The shoulder did tighten up as the game went on.”

McNamara was 12-for-25 on the day for 91 yards. Milton relieved McNamara once more midway through the 4th quarter for the duration of the game. “Cade with a really gutty performance to come back,” Harbaugh said. “The shoulder did start to tighten up. I could see it. He was doing everything he could to stay in the game but we just felt like that was tightening up and caused him to (labor). Felt like going to Joe was the best option for us. I can tell you this, Cade was doing everything he possibly could to rally the team and to play on. His shoulder was tightening up on him. That was the reason.”

McNamara should be commended for his fight, he showed his toughness. But it’s clear the McNamara that played against Penn State was far from 100% healthy. For McNamara’s sake, hopefully this will be an injury that doesn’t linger and he’ll get a crack at starting a game for four quarters with optimal health.