Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy was hit a good amount on Saturday night, and lesser men would have crawled to the sideline and tapped out.
The Rutgers defense made it a point of emphasis to pop McCarthy as often and as hard as they possibly could. Instead of buckling to the pain and the pressure, McCarthy used it as fuel.
“J.J. McCarthy, he just does not get rattled at all,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said after Michigan’s 52-17 win.
McCarthy threw for 152 yards with two passing touchdowns as well as a quarterback sneak score, but Harbaugh felt McCarthy’s stats seemed a lot larger due to a few near misses on throws.
“It felt like 300 to me because of the plays he was making. Standing in there and making some incredible throws. Had the touchdown throws that were great and had a few drops.”
One thing that stood out to Harbaugh was McCarthy’s tenacity and grit. He wasn’t getting rattled.
J.J. McCarthy takes a massive hit here and displays great toughness.— Trevor Woods (@WoodsFootball) November 6, 2022
Grimaces in pain, shakes it off, moves on. pic.twitter.com/1CH68YBjLs
“He was getting hit, too. Standing in there with a lot of courage. I watch him series-by-series — the kid, he’s like Bjorn Borg out there. He’s an Ice Man.”
Harbaugh said J.J.’s not exactly like Borg and doesn’t have to be, but the sentiment of Harbaugh’s comparison is obvious. Borg’s nickname was “The Ice Man”, and he’s considered to be one of the toughest and most confident tennis players of all time. If the nickname Ice Man sticks for McCarthy, it would fit.
July 5, 1980: Borg-McEnroe Classic— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) July 5, 2021
✔️34 Point Tiebreaker
Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe to claim a 5th consecutive Wimbledon title!pic.twitter.com/knDDVneATp
Harbaugh pointed to how passionate McCarthy is and that he’s ready to play ball anywhere, any time, under any situation.
“He’s got a lot of emotion, but there’s a real quality about him that doesn’t matter if he’s at home, doesn’t matter if he’s on the road,” Harbaugh said. “Cheering his name, booing him, hitting him. Ahead, behind, that ‘it’ factor is there with J.J. McCarthy.”
McCarthy’s ‘it’ factor has helped Michigan improve to 9-0 and the College Football Playoff in sight.