The No. 4 Michigan Wolverines faced the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, after some delay, for its second game of the season, and the first under the lights at the Big House. After another lopsided win for the Wolverines, the quarterback discussion has come to a close. Not long after this game’s end, head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed J.J. McCarthy, after his debut as starter, earned the QB1 title for the foreseeable future.
McCarthy had an impressive showing, so the turning point serves two purposes this week. While it determined the trajectory of the game, it also sealed the deal for McCarthy. There was no denying the difference in play between Michigan’s two potential starters, and this particular point affirmed for the masses who should emerge as QB1 in Week 3.
Here’s the point I gave McCarthy the go ahead.
Michigan already had a padded lead, firing from the jump under a McCarthy-led offense. After the only drive that resulted in a punt with McCarthy at the helm, the Wolverines were starting anew at their own 10. After moving the ball a couple yards from a Blake Corum run, McCarthy took to the air, connecting with Ronnie Bell for a 15-yard gain. Corum sought to move the chains some more, rushing for six yards to Michigan’s 33. Then, McCarthy really let it fly, with a 54 yard bomb to Cornelius Johnson. A thing of beauty no doubt, but that was only the set up.
The Wolverines were at the Rainbow Warriors’ 13 when they ran a play action. The execution had Hawaii moving to stop the run rather than adhering to Michigan’s two receivers moving downfield. The fake hand off to Donovan Edwards led to an absolute dart from McCarthy to Bell for six.
The precision and quick release on the pass was nearly flawless. Any deviation would have resulted in either an incomplete or an interception, as two defenders were in the vicinity. McCarthy combated a drive that resulted in Michigan going three and out by moving the offense 90 yards in five plays for a score. He went 3-of-3 passing on this drive, throwing for 82 yards.
The Wolverines needed more reliability in the red zone and some more accuracy in deep throws down the field. McCarthy provided that all in one drive. Michigan went up 28-0 because of it and then rattled off two more touchdowns before half.
This was clearly a game in Michigan’s favor before it started, but at the same time it revealed a lot about this team, particularly quarterback play. McCarthy ended the game 11-of-12 for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns. Cade McNamara had a less than ideal showing, taking a sack in his first drive of the game. He ended 4-of-6 for 26 passing yards and an interception.
McNamara did a lot to pull Michigan out of the trenches after its 2020 season. While his efforts in 2021 to bring the Wolverines redemption won’t be forgotten, it was made abundantly clear after last night that Michigan has entered the McCarthy era.