Five-star freshman J.J. McCarthy received playing time in the second half against Wisconsin.
The decision paid off for head coach Jim Harbaugh, who threw McCarthy into the fire with Michigan up just 13-10 on the road against Wisconsin in a loud environment. McCarthy was initially used in the game to try and attack the edge of the defense via read-option runs.
J.J. McCarthy QB sneak— Pickswise (@Pickswise) October 2, 2021
Michigan (+2) back up by two scores pic.twitter.com/o7T2zirtZk
McCarthy’s success ultimately came on a QB sneak for a score, and a 56-yard touchdown pass to Daylen Baldwin, which was his only throw of the day.
“We thought we’d have some looks for him to be able to pull the ball,” Harbaugh said. “Tried to get the ball on the perimeter, and we got one where he had a nice gain, a 9-yard gain.”
Harbaugh made note of McCarthy’s touchdown throw and ability to stretch the ball down the field, as well as the plan for McCarthy’s utilization moving forward. “He can throw the ball really good, too. We just try to get him in there as much as we can. That’s the thinking.”
Earlier this week quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss spoke of McCarthy’s talent, and that he could be a starter right now on other programs. “I think at a lot of places, J.J. would probably be the starting quarterback, but we have the luxury where we don’t have to throw him in the fire right away,” Weiss said. “We are trying to play him whenever he can get the opportunity so that he can develop. That’s really to his benefit, it’s to our benefit. We want our backup quarterback ready to play whenever he’s called upon. The best way to do that is to play him when we can.”