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Jesse Minter on McNamara and McCarthy: ‘They both present different challenges’

Michigan’s defensive coordinator gives his thoughts about what McNamara and McCarthy bring to the table.

NCAA Football: Orange Bowl-Georgia at Michigan John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan’s quarterback competition is underway in fall camp and new defensive coordinator Jesse Minter is getting a good sense of what Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy have to offer.

When speaking with the media on Thursday Minter was asked about how McNamara and McCarthy, who have different skill sets, help prepare Michigan for the season.

“It’s not my job to evaluate them but they’re both exceptional players,” Minter said. “I think one of the things about Cade is, I think he’s actually more athletic than people talk about, he moves around really well in the pocket. J.J. can certainly take off and make plays but they’re both really good, they both present different challenges.”

McNamara rushed for 26 yards and one touchdown a season ago, while McCarthy (who saw the field less) rushed for 124 yards and two scores. McNamara has maneuverability in the pocket, but McCarthy is a legitimate threat to run at all times and is one of the fastest quarterbacks in the Power Five. In practice, Michigan gets to go toe-to-toe with two quality quarterbacks who they can’t scheme against in the same manner — this fact is helpful to Michigan’s edge rushers and defense as a whole.

“We talk to our edge guys about which ones in there, sort of how to rush different verse those type of quarterbacks. It’s great work in that regard of having to one recognize some teams might play two quarterbacks where you gotta recognize how we rush one guy a certain way,” Minter said. “One guy you might not mind if he gets out, one guy you definitely want to keep him in the pocket.”

Minter gave credit to the entire operation on offense, not just the quarterbacks.

“Tremendous opportunity to go against not only those two but our entire offense,” Minter said. “Coach Weiss, coach Moore, coach Harbaugh, tremendous talent over there, tremendous scheme that we get to go against. It’s a blessing for us to try to get better every day.”

Head coach Jim Harbaugh said earlier this week that McNamara and McCarthy are splitting reps right down the middle in fall camp and that the competition has been back and forth thus far.

“Like two guys racing, you see one, it’ll be in practice, ‘OK, he’s pulling ahead’, and as soon as I sense that then I see the other guy kind of surge by him,” Harbaugh said. “And then the other guy kind of pulls up right next to his shoulder, then of them goes ahead. It’s like they’re getting faster and they’re getting better, there’s nobody that’s passing behind. Then the next day I think the other guy, he’s ahead, and then the other guy surges. It’s like two irons, two swords that are sharpening. As iron sharpens iron, biblical. It’s exactly what it looks like to me.”

No matter who the starter is, both quarterbacks are giving the Michigan Wolverines’ defense good competition in practice as the team prepares for the season, which starts on Sept. 3 at Michigan Stadium against Colorado State.