The Michigan Wolverines currently have a luxury that other elite football programs don’t have — a top-tier quarterback with experience.
Georgia may have won two National Championships in a row, but Stetson Bennett is now in the NFL. Other top teams such as Alabama and Ohio State are in the same boat — Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud are in the pros.
In theory, this year could be Michigan’s best chance at a national title in over two decades, and Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy is a big reason why.
ESPN analyst Rece Davis is a believer in McCarthy and the Wolverines. Davis currently has Michigan ranked ahead of Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio State.
“I’m going to have Michigan No. 1 in the preseason,” Davis said last week. “My biggest reason is they are one of the few contenders who have enough everywhere else and a proven quarterback who I believe is going to be much better. He was already good, but I think he’s going to take a giant step forward, J.J. McCarthy this upcoming season.”
McCarthy is coming off a season where he was an integral part of Michigan winning a Big Ten Championship and making the College Football Playoff. In 2022, McCarthy completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,719 yards, with 22 passing touchdowns, five interceptions, and 306 yards rushing with five rushing scores.
McCarthy is why Davis has Michigan as the top dog, but he also mentioned their stout offensive line which was bolstered even further with transfer additions such as LaDarius Henderson, Drake Nugent, and Myles Hinton. Davis also believes Michigan has a “good enough” defense and “two terrific running backs” in Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards. Still, a QB often makes or breaks a team, and Davis clearly thinks McCarthy has all the right stuff.
“McCarthy’s the big thing to me. He is potentially an elite player,” Davis said. “If he can take that next step, then I think that gives Michigan a chance.”
Davis feels Georgia has a better roster but he wants to see the quarterback play there and at Alabama and Ohio State before giving that trio of programs an edge over McCarthy and Michigan.
2023 will be McCarthy’s third year with the Michigan program and he’s fully acclimated to the schematics as well as the ins and outs of being a collegiate student-athlete. Receivers coach Ron Bellamy recently said that McCarthy is one of the best leaders he’s ever been around and “the kid that could lead the operation.”
“This kid gets it,” Bellamy said. “He is the heart and soul of our football team.”
Whether Davis keeps Michigan at No. 1 or not is simply water cooler talk and all in good fun. A pundit giving Michigan a positive or negative ranking doesn’t matter. Winning matters.