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J.J. McCarthy approaches improvement with ‘Kobe Bryant mentality’

An NBA legend’s mindset is instilled within Michigan’s QB.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being 6-0 to start the season, Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy isn’t satisfied with the results on the field — at least not yet.

There is a lot more the sophomore expects from not only himself, but the entire offense. From the players to the coaches and everyone in between, McCarthy likes where this group is at and where it’s headed.

“When you talk about potential and you look at what we have as a group, who we’re coached by, what we’re doing on the field — it’s just not matching up with our potential and where we should be and where we’re going to be,” McCarthy told the media Tuesday evening. “Everything’s a process, and this entire season is just continual growth. But I just feel like we shouldn’t be getting stopped offensively with the talent that we have and the scheme that’s being put in, we shouldn’t be stopped. So just being able to find our groove every single drive, every single play of every single game is going to be huge. Once we do, then we’ll break through that surface for sure.”

When it comes to improving his game, McCarthy has taken after one of the greatest perfectionists in sports history — The Black Mamba.

“I always approached it with that Kobe Bryant mentality — I’m gonna get 1,000 shots in,” McCarthy said. “You can’t really do that with your arm; I learned that last year with this lab(rum) tear and everything. But just continually repping out every single throw so I know exactly how it feels when I want to put it a certain way. And just being in the present moment when the game is happening, when the play is happening. Just being complete and present. Going through every little pre-snap checklist in my head and just being able to deliver effortlessly.”

After a string of effective performances, it’s clear the guys on offense are hungry to take a step forward. Part of that comes from McCarthy’s own room for improvement, especially when it comes to throwing the deep ball.

“Probably the biggest key, and maybe the only key, is just myself, you know? Just putting the ball on them (on the deep throws),” McCarthy said. “Really understanding that as I’m recovering from this injury from the offseason, I’m starting to gain my strength back. My hips are more mobile, they’ve gained more strength, and just being able to get back into that rhythm again and not feel like I need to put my all into a throw. Just focus on it, see the ball through the throw and delivering it to them. The guys have been doing great getting open, I’ve just got to put the ball on them.”

For a quarterback with the nation’s top completion percentage, only needing to find the touch on the deep ball is a good problem to have. If McCarthy can dial it in, the offense will be a formidable threat for any team heading into the second half of the season.