If it has not been clear to you over the last several months, Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh officially named Cade McNamara his starter on Monday afternoon. The third-year passer gets to take the season-opening snaps for the first time in his career when the Western Michigan Broncos come to town on Saturday.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh explained what he saw throughout the offseason to warrant McNamara’s standing as QB1.
“Yes, Cade McNamara is our starting quarterback,” Harbaugh said during his Monday press conference. “His constant improvement.. he’s really ratcheted it up in a lot of different areas. The biggest one, consistency. Consistency of doing his job, also call it a talent of making everybody else around you better. Maybe that’s the most important job of a quarterback.
“Really locked in. Really knows his assignments. Great work ethic,” Harbaugh continued. “Just the unselfishness, I think, is probably the biggest thing. Sticks out about his leadership is his desire to get the ball to playmakers and make people around him better. Move the offense a lot.”
McNamara led the Michigan offense in relief of Joe Milton in the games against Wisconsin and Rutgers last year. He earned a start against Penn State, but then was injured in what wound up being the season finale for the Wolverines due to a COVID outbreak within the program.
McNamara never had a chance to truly lead last year. Now, he’s earned it and is out to set the pace for the offense and be an example to everyone else.
“I think my role on the team is specifically what has changed,” McNamara said on Monday. “I always wanted to be the starter and, last year, after winning the starting job at the end of the season, I never went through an offseason as being the starter. Just basically my role has changed. My job is to be consistent, so I’m just striving to be as consistent as I possibly can.”
McNamara was thrust into a role he did not expect to have late last season. He decided to let his play do the talking. Now, he feels like he is being given the license to be a more vocal version of himself.
“I think my leadership style began by example, just because of the position I was in the last two years,” McNamara said. “I feel like my leadership style is demanding more out of my teammates and contributing more with my voice, I wasn’t able to do that as a non-starter. I feel like my position now has really given me the ability to be myself again. It feels really good.”
McNamara will lead the Michigan offense from the get-go on Saturday in the showdown with WMU. That game will kick off at noon eastern and be broadcast via ESPN.