Last week Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh announced that quarterback Cade McNamara would start the season opener, and J.J. McCarthy would start the second game against Hawaii.
In Michigan’s 51-7 win over Colorado State, McNamara and McCarthy were both utilized.
Harbaugh said McNamara, who went 9-of-18 for 136 yards and one touchdown had a really good game. However, in the second half, Harbaugh felt it was time to insert McCarthy with Michigan up in the game. All the young quarterback did was impress once he set foot on the field.
McCarthy was 4-for-4 for 30 yards and rushed for 50 yards on three carries with one touchdown scamper. The touchdown run from McCarthy was impressive, he displayed his game-changing ability as a runner.
“I thought things were operating really smooth in the first half and finally said ‘hey let’s get J.J. in there.’ And he was electric when he got in, no question about that,” Harbaugh said after the game.
Harbaugh’s happy with McCarthy’s improvement as a passer as well.
“Thought that he also went through his reads very well. it was great to see him play really super calm, cool, collected. He’s doing a great job, too, really improved a lot as you’d expect going from a freshman year to a sophomore year.”
Harbaugh was asked where McCarthy has made strides since last season. McCarthy is now able to process things quicker while also slowing the game down. He’s seeing the field clearly.
“I think it’s slowing down. Really good players have the ability to do that,” Harbaugh said. “They’re feeding off real adrenaline there, but the thing slows down around them, the game slows down around them.”
McCarthy didn’t force the ball into tight coverage, he took what the defense gave him when he was on the field, and that’s something that made his head coach happy.
“Calmly just going through your reads, looking for the downfield throw but not gonna fight the dropping defenders, check it down, he did that very effectively a couple times today.”
McCarthy now has a week to prepare knowing he is the starting quarterback Week 2, and it’ll be a huge opportunity for him. There’s some data in from the season opener against Colorado State, but more data needs to be accumulated in live-game situations to make a final determination as to who the starting quarterback will be moving forward.
McCarthy put himself in a great situation leading into Week 2, and if he has an electric showing against Hawaii he very well may be the starting quarterback the rest of the season.