Michigan offensive coordinator has many new tasks on his plate, one of which will be evaluating the quarterback position. Michigan will have a new starting quarterback in 2021.
Redshirt sophomore Cade McNamara, redshirt freshman Dan Villari, and true freshman J.J. McCarthy, and grad transfer Alan Bowman all will be vying for playing time, but there can only be one starter.
Gattis mentioned McNamara by name in terms of leadership, and said that he’s pleased with the direction the QB room is heading.
“I think the quarterbacks have done a really good job doing what we’re asking them to do. First and foremost, to take leadership of the team. They’ve done a really good job as a group pushing each other,” Gattis said. “Cade, specifically, with his experience coming back and having game reps. I think that’s provided some confidence in his play and confidence in his demeanor as a leader on the team. We’re very, very pleased. We’re only a handful of practices in and it’s too much time, too long to tell but we’re pleased with the direction that those guys have shown in their leadership and their performance on the field.”
There’s a lot of time between now and the regular season, and Gattis doesn’t want the quarterbacks to overdo it. Comfortability and understanding the offense is what Gattis wants from his quarterbacks here in March.
“For quarterbacks, being comfortable with who you are and playing to your skillset. Early on, for quarterbacks, I think it’s important to command the offense. Don’t try to put too much on your plate. You’re on the field to be the general of the field but don’t try to overdo it. I think that’s where our guys have taken on understanding. The quarterback position is always the most critiqued, most critical position of any position in all of sports.” Gattis said. “I’m not sure there’s not a position in any other sport that takes the criticism that position can take. When you have young guys or guys that don’t have a ton of experience, that’s a lot of pressure to put on themselves. Even the outside pressure. The biggest thing is that they’re comfortable, making sure they’re understanding, making sure they’re taking practice experience and being able to relate those to game situations so they can put themselves in a position to be successful.”
This will be Gattis’ third season at Michigan, and it will be his third time entering the season with a new starting quarterback. Gattis acknowledged the need for stability at the position, and the need to tailor the offense around the specific skill-sets of their current QB room.
“Stability is key because ultimately you want to try to play the game to each quarterback’s strengths. Each quarterback has been different so far. Different talents, different strengths and different athletic abilities. It’s our job as a coaching staff to try to tailor around what that quarterback does best. Whether it’s by functional movement, whether it’s by reads, whether it’s not putting too much on the plate. Really trying to get them as comfortable as they can be so they can try and go out and excel at a high level,” Gattis said. “Obviously, when you have multiple quarterbacks you have to try and tailor things around them. We’re doing that now. Our quarterback is different now with the type of players that we have in the quarterback room. You would love consistency, you would love to have one model of, okay, this who we have. It just doesn’t come in today’s age of recruiting. You’re recruiting all different types of athlete and all different types of quarterbacks. It’s our job to make sure we can tailor the system the best around them to benefit their strengths.”
Michigan’s quarterback room has become increasingly mobile, and the wrinkles within the offense must expand to accommodate these skills. Right now, coaches and quarterbacks are getting more acclimated with one another and what’s expected of them within the offense. The blueprint is getting laid out, and spring ball is the start of construction of what is their 2021 season.