Cade McNamara is Michigan Football’s starting quarterback, but that doesn’t mean J.J. McCarthy is taking his foot off the gas during his first year on campus. “He’s off to a fast start and playing really well,” head coach Jim Harbaugh told the media on Friday.
According to Harbaugh the five-star freshman has been fighting and shares a lot of the same characteristics that McNamara exhibits. Although McCarthy is still getting acclimated to the speed and intricacies of college football, Harbaugh has seen growth from spring to where things currently stand in August.
“It’s been real. It’s been outstanding. He flashes all the time, every practice. The plays that are big plays. They’re excellent throws or using his athleticism,” Harbaugh said this week.
An area where Harbaugh has seen a lot of growth is in McCarthy taking what the defense gives him instead of forcing throws and trying to make highlight plays every snap.
“He’s grown in the area of being a steady Eddy type player. Who wouldn’t wanna be Ryan Tannehill? He knows he’s got some real players in the backfield and at the receiver. He’s learning that he doesn’t have to carry the team on every play in every game,” Harbaugh said. “That’s probably where I’ve seen the most growth from him from spring ball to day six of fall camp. It all comes from a good place; he wants to go out there and carry the team. That’s my evaluation of him. He’s improved in that area of being more like a point guard. Distributing the ball to these backs, these receivers and tight ends and protecting his offensive linemen. Not holding the ball, running around. Learning how to play quarterback, manage the game and get the ball to his playmakers.”
Earlier this spring quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss spoke of McCarthy’s maturity level and his attention to detail in terms of preparation, things that should expedite learning the offense and improving on the practice field. “His maturity is far beyond his years. Early in the spring, I was asking about his routine, how he gets ready for practice, how he gets ready for games,” Weiss explained. “As an 18-year old, you’re expecting not much to be there, and he plays through his routine of how he clears his mind, how he does his shoulder exercises, and I’m sitting here thinking, ‘Man, can I get a copy of that?’ He’s been impressive in a lot of ways. I think, just for him, it’s a question of when not if.”
When, not if — sounds about right.