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Michigan assistant explains why J.J. McCarthy will remain No. 2 QB for now

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The Wolverines are not rushing his development.

NCAA Football: Northern Illinois at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines are not having the same quarterback debate that those on social media are. Cade McNamara is locked in as the starter for several reasons, most of them revolving around him being the guy most ready to play.

J.J. McCarthy’s time will come, but the five-star freshman is still being given the time to develop.

“Cade is the starter because he’s earned it,” quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss said this week. “Happy with both guys. But the idea that Cade somehow waited his turn and that’s why he’s playing. You guys know with Coach Harbaugh, ‘The Team, The Team, The Team.’ If you met somebody at a gas station with eligibility that could start for us and help us win, that guy would start. That’s why Cade’s the starter.”

Given Michigan’s never-ending struggle to find a star quarterback in the Harbaugh era, it makes sense that people are hungry to see the five-star prospect get into the game. Weiss sees the fact that he is the No. 2 QB as a strength for the team.

“We’re blessed to have talented players who can play at a high level,” Weiss said. “I think at a lot of places, J.J. would probably be the starting quarterback, but we have the luxury where we don’t have to throw him in the fire right away. And we are trying to play him whenever he can get the opportunity so that he can develop. That’s really to his benefit, it’s to our benefit. We want our backup quarterback ready to play whenever he’s called upon. The best way to do that is to play him when we can.

“I think he leads the country in true freshman quarterback snaps from the guys who were highly recruited. We’re gonna keep developing him, keep bringing him along. But the thing that will happen is, you put the guy in the fire and they come out fine and other times they don’t. The other part of that, too, is some guys have success, but you limit the scope of the offense because it’s an inexperienced player and then you have success. But you leave the offense like that and they never fully develop. I know I’ve seen that before with guys when they get to the NFL, to the next level, where they played all four years in college and you can’t believe how limited the offense was because they started as a true freshman. They started winning and would say, ‘Hey, this is great!’ and just kept doing it. This allows him to develop more fully with the luxury of being able to play Cade.”

Michigan has McNamara over McCarthy because he is ahead in the race, but that McCarthy knows how to run the whole offense and can do it if called into action.

“J.J. can run the whole offense, no doubt about it,” Weiss said. “Big thing with him, too, is there’s this narrative that he’s somehow this phenomenal talent. And he’s talented, but you look at the list of five-star quarterbacks, go through that list for years past, there’s a lot of names you’ve never heard of. And they were all talented. I think the difference for him, what he has, why we’re so excited about him is the makeup, the character, his approach to everything. All that stuff is there. So we’re excited about him.”