Michigan’s quarterback situation in 2021 has been the best of the Jim Harbaugh era.
There’s reliable starting quarterback Cade McNamara, who’s passed for 14 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. And behind McNamara is a five-star true freshman in J.J. McCarthy who has tons of arm talent and is willing to make some gutsy throws. McCarthy also has the ability to take off and run with the best of them. So far this year McCarthy has passed for 348 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception while rushing for 2 scores as well.
Ohio State will have to study the tendencies of both quarterbacks, as they both have different strengths and weaknesses to their game. When speaking with the media on Tuesday, Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day noted that he has his eyes on McCarthy.
“He’s very, very talented and he has kind of a dual-threat approach to his game — he can do some things in the ride to side game and he can also throw the ball, he’s quick and he has a little bit of that dual-threat,” Day said. “It seems like that’s kind of what they’ve done a little bit when he’s been in the game but he can also throw the ball really, really well. We’ll have to go through and really look at the film and find out what the tendencies are.”
While McNamara will likely carry the heavy load against Ohio State, McCarthy will have to make his opportunities count. And Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has been confident in the young quarterback all season long.
“I think I do repeat this about every week — we want to play J.J.,” Harbaugh said earlier this month. “Really believe that he adds to our chances of winning. He’s ready, he competes, he plays extremely well.”
There may be some certain plays and packages that suit McCarthy’s strengths more than others, but Day doesn’t think Michigan’s playbook changes all that much with McCarthy in the game.
“We’re not gonna change what defensively based on who’s in the game — they don’t have that much of a different package,” Day said.
All hands on deck versus Ohio State, and McCarthy will have to be ready to roll.