Now decades later Harbaugh is the head coach of Michigan and has a young quarterback in J.J. McCarthy who reminds Harbaugh of himself.
“Play your game. There’s nobody that loves that game more than I do,” Harbaugh said after Michigan’s 27-14 win over Maryland. “He’s better than me — but I mean, he reminds me of a young Jimmy Harbaugh.”
Harbaugh talked about how McCarthy’s mentality is to never give up on a play. McCarthy scrambling to extend plays has already become commonplace this season.
“Off he goes, he drops back, and then he runs over to his left, circles back to his right, back to his left, runs it, or throws it, to an open guy. Man, I love it, I just love it.”
McCarthy did fumble the ball in this one, but fortunately for the Wolverines it wasn’t a turnover. McCarthy was careful throwing the ball today, not biting off more than he could chew against an Iowa pass defense that has been elite this year. McCarthy was 18-of-24 for 155 yards and a touchdown.
Harbaugh said he talked about the importance of ball security with McCarthy, a trait that will have to improve as his career progresses. Still, he hasn’t thrown an interception this season, and his fumbles haven’t led to turnovers. Harbaugh was pleased with McCarthy’s performance, the first road start of his career. Harbaugh emphasized that he isn’t going to get in the way of McCarthy playing his brand of football, he’s letting the 19-year old be himself and figure it out on the fly.
“I thought he played a really good game. I dance a real fine line of not taking his special talent and overcoaching it,” Harbaugh said. “I do not want him to be a victim of overcoaching. So when it’s all said and done, it’s just, ‘do you J.J., play your game’. It’s really good. Just protect the ball.”
McCarthy is now 4-0 as a starting quarterback and his next road test will be at Indiana next Saturday.