Michigan’s Cade McNamara not expecting quarterback battle with J.J. McCarthy in ‘unusual’ competition

Ann Arbor, Mich. — After Michigan State’s 51-7 win over Colorado State, Cade McNamara said he didn’t expect to start the season with a quarterback battle with sophomore JJ McCarthy.

Jim Harbaugh announced before Game 1 that the two would compete for the starting spot, with McNamara starting Game 1 of the season and McCarthy starting Game 2. McNamara was a starter last season, helping Michigan to a 12-2 record, its first Big Ten title under Harbaugh and a spot in the college football playoffs.

“I would definitely say it’s unusual,” McNamara said. “It’s something I didn’t expect at the end of training camp. I think I had my best training camp. I think I put myself in a good position, and that’s what the coaches decided.”

McNamara finished Game 1, completing 9 of 18 passes for 136 yards, including 61 touchdowns to Roman Wilson. Harbaugh admitted there were some passing errors, but praised him when asked about his assessment of McNamara’s performance.

“I think he’s really good,” Harbaugh said. “He conceded a couple of balls. Executed well, as I said, no problem. When that happens on offense, you have to give credit to the quarterback as well. Move the football, score, I think he’s really good game.”

McNamara said Harbaugh didn’t want to rotate two quarterbacks throughout the season like we saw last season. The quarterback expects the starters to take most of the steals, but as the fight goes on, McCarthy and McNamara will continue to divide.

“I have a lot of confidence in my performance in training camp,” McNamara said. “Definitely feels that way. But, it’s not my decision. So, whatever it is, whatever my role is, I’m honored that my teammates recognize my current role and that’s it.”

McCarthy gained time in the second half against Colorado State, completing four of four passes for 30 yards and running for 50 yards and a touchdown. Harbaugh said it was part of a plan to get McCarthy’s steals and thought it was a good time to get him involved because the Wolverines kept the lead and gave him more opportunities to evaluate the quarterback.

“(McCarthy) was excited when he came in, no doubt about it,” Harbaugh said. “I think he reads really well as well and it’s great to see him acting really cool and calm and collected. I don’t think it’s in vain, but he’s also done a good job and has really improved from freshman to senior year. Two, it’s as much as you’d expect.”

McCarthy will now have a chance to play at home against Hawaii and prove his starting spot. McNamara could also be snapped up if the outcome is similar to Game 1, but the final call will not be in their hands.

“It’s all good. It’s something I’ve been dealing with throughout my career,” McNamara said. “Whether it was before I played with Joe (Milton), or it ended up coming in, whether it was last season or this season. I think at this point, I’m pretty numb about how to handle these things.”


Leave a Comment