The Michigan Wolverines are nearing the completion of their spring football practices, which paints a full picture of the things that need to be worked on ahead of fall camp. There has not been any public appearances made or practices seen by the media, so all we have to go on is what is coming out of the building.
Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis spoke on Jon Jansen’s podcast this week and went through several of the position groups, headlined by the quarterback position. That elusive star passer has not emerged through the first six years of the Jim Harbaugh era.
Gattis summed up the picture as of now and how they are working with the signal-callers in practices.
“I think for us it’s about trying to create as many game-like scenarios to put the quarterbacks in. Real, contested scenarios,” Gattis said. “Because that’s the hardest thing about quarterback. You really never know about the quarterback until you put them in a game scenario. Obviously, Cade is experienced. The players believe in him as far as leadership, he has a tremendous understanding of the offense. He’s a leader. He moves the ball for the team, he moves the ball for the offense and he takes control on command. But he’s still only played in one, two, three games. He hasn’t played a ton of football. So he’s still the returning starter, but he hasn’t played a ton of football. So there’s a still lot left to be desired as far as game scenarios that he needs to take.
“And obviously add J.J. McCarthy in here. J.J.’s come in, he’s done a really good job of learning the offense, just grasping everything. He’s had his freshman moments, but he’s also had big-time moments that displayed his five-star ability and his skill set. He’s a kid with tremendous talent, but it’s about getting him caught up and understanding every day is a new day, because you don’t have the banked reps or repeated opportunity to be able to grasp from other practice scenarios. And obviously, when a defensive install goes in, the picture changes as well.
“Also, with Dan Villari. Having Dan who was a redshirt freshman last year, this spring has been totally new for him. Because what people don’t understand is when you’re a redshirt freshman, you’re the scout team quarterback, you’re not going through your offense — you’re going through the opposing team’s offense. You’re running plays on cards. We really have two freshmen right there with Dan Villari and J.J. McCarthy that are battling it out with Cade. The biggest thing is making sure we’re not putting too much on their plate, making sure we’re allowing those guys to be confident, but also putting them into as many game-like scenarios where they have to make quick decisions. And, most importantly, protect the football and move the offense forward.”
The battle for now is seemingly between McNamara and McCarthy, but a third variable enters the mix in fall camp in the form of Texas Tech transfer Alan Bowman. We will wait to see how he factors in, but a Big-12 quarterback with starting experience seemingly would be a name to watch come fall.