With seven minutes and some change, Michigan had a 33-30 lead against Michigan State, but the momentum greatly changed on a fumbled exchange between quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running back Blake Corum.
McCarthy was involved with two fumbles on the day, they came in back-to-back drives, the first of which he didn’t secure but the ball went out of bounds and Michigan retained possession, ultimately netting a field goal on the drive. The next drive, the very first play, with Cade McNamara in the medical tent getting looked at, a handoff by McCarthy to Corum went awry and Michigan State scooped up the fumble. The turnover would lead to Kenneth Walkers fifth touchdown of the afternoon, which gave MSU a 37-33 lead, which would be the final score.
How's the heart, everyone? pic.twitter.com/CwwpXm82f6— Michigan St. on BTN (@MichiganStOnBTN) October 30, 2021
After the game, head coach Jim Harbaugh said that the exchange didn’t go smoothly, and on Monday he explained what happened in more detail.
“The two fumbles, one he’s (McCarthy) gotta put the ball away running to his left there. Secure it. Then the next one, he was doing everything he was supposed to do.”
It sounds as if it was a situation where the play was definitively going to Corum. “That’s something Blake should have securely taken the ball knowing the ball was coming to him,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh’s confidence remains high with McCarthy despite being involved in a couple plays that the five-star freshman surely has been thinking about. Receiver Mike Sainristil says he told McCarthy to keep his head up on the team bus but also is confident that the young quarterback is fine and will grow from the experience. Harbaugh said McCarthy will still be seeing time as he has been all season, nothing has changed in that regard one bit.
“I think I repeat this every week, but we want to play J.J.,” Harbaugh said. “We really believe that he adds to our chances of winning. I think he’s ready. He competes, he plays extremely well.”
McCarthy was 3-of-4 for 23 yards with a touchdown pass to Andrel Anthony.
True freshman J.J. McCarthy to true freshman Andrel Anthony, who is from East Lansing. pic.twitter.com/FC5Mq2uZlK— Chris Hummer (@chris_hummer) October 30, 2021
Update: 7:51 p.m. ET: Harbaugh gives further context