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Jim Harbaugh and Michigan confident in J.J. McCarthy ahead of pivotal stretch

Every game is a big game from here on out and we’re going to find out what Michigan’s QB1 is made of.

Michigan State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Much has been made of Michigan’s passing attack of late, there’s been a clamoring outside the program wanting to see more deep balls completed.

However, in the totality of each and every game this season quarter J.J. McCarthy and Michigan’s offense have been highly effective scoring points. Michigan has the 5th ranked scoring offense, and there’s a variety of passing categories that aren’t too shabby either.

McCarthy ranks 18th in passing efficiency at 157.6, and ninth in completion percentage at 69 percent. McCarthy’s 11th in ESPN’s QBR at 79.5, he’s thrown 14 touchdowns to just two interceptions and has rushed for 195 yards and three touchdowns.

It’s always worth mentioning that McCarthy is just 19 years old and his career is just getting started. He’s no finished product but head coach Jim Harbaugh has been more than pleased with McCarthy’s play so far this season.

“You never know until they’re out there playing every game, playing every snap, we knew he was very talented, but his poise has been remarkable.”

Harbaugh says it doesn’t matter if it’s home or road, being cheered or being booed, ahead in the game or trailing, he’s the same player.

While metrics indicate the deep passing game of McCarthy and Michigan’s wideouts can get better, he’s still delivered catchable deep balls 59% of the time per Sports Info Solutions. That figure is better than his 34.4 true completion percentage of balls over 20-yards.

The data also indicates McCarthy fares well when pressured and is among the most accurate quarterbacks in the nation on short and intermediate throws.

Further, McCarthy has been lethal on play-action, averaging an FBS-best 13.5 yards per attempt on play-action. McCarthy is hitting at a 76.9 percent clip (40-of-52) on play-action attempts for 705 yards and five touchdowns.

“If he’s got the protection and somebody’s open he’s gonna find ‘em and hit ‘em,” Harbaugh said. “It’s been good to watch and it’s gonna keep getting better too. Super happy.”

Receiver Ronnie Bell has lots of confidence in McCarthy and the passing game.

“I think we’re really close,” Bell said.

Blake Corum commended the efforts of the passing game, too, and believes their biggest moments are coming.

“Don’t stop throwing the ball, because it’s gonna connect. Because we practice, we practice really hard, It’s gonna come, just watch.”

Michigan’s rushing attack has been phenomenal in 2022, Corum is a Heisman candidate, but it’s clear Harbaugh and Michigan’s locker room have lots of faith in McCarthy if a game comes down to him delivering accurate strikes to win it.

Things only get harder from here for McCarthy and the Wolverines, facing Illinois this Saturday before traveling to face Ohio State the following week. McCarthy’s grit and talent will be tested and we’re going to find out a lot about Michigan's QB1.