The Michigan The quarterback fight was one of the most interesting fights of the off season, but it was not decided yet with the first week match against Colorado In sight. Instead, it will give Wolverines number 8 ranked Cade McNamara and JJ McCarthy a chance to start each other’s game before a decision is made, marking a continuation of the competition into the 2022 season.
Coach Jim Harbaugh announced Saturday that McNamara, the current player, will start the season opener against the Rams while McCarthy, last year’s backup, will take first-team shots in Week Two vs. Hawaii. A full-time starter and backup will then be made in Week 3 based on each player’s starting performance.
“We have made a decisionHarbaugh said in a statement. “Both of our quarterbacks have done really well – they did everything they could… to win the primary mission. Coming out of camp, I just feel we have our quarterbacks, Cady McNamara and JJ McCarthy, and that we feel very confident in our ability to win the championship. With either of them behind the center.”
McNamara threw 2,576 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions last year, while McCarthy threw 516 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions that serve as a backup and change option.
“It’s great for our team, but there’s only one ball and there can only be one midfielder at a time,” Harbo said.
Let’s analyze what this means for Michigan going forward…
The schedule allows frequency
The old saying goes that if you have two quarterbacks, you won’t actually have either. This is not necessarily the case here, however.
Would Harbaugh make the decision to go with a different start in the first two weeks if Michigan plays a tough non-conference schedule? Probably not, but you don’t have to worry about that with the Rams and the Rainbow Warriors coming to Ann Arbor to start the year.
Harbaugh uses the first two games of the season as auditions, then gets the luxury of playing UConn in Week 3. The eventual winner of the quarterback fight can have a full four quarters under his belt before the Wolverines host Maryland on their senior side. Ten editorial on September 24.
It’s not ideal that the competition has entered the season – every coach will undoubtedly want the number one caller heading into week one – but that’s not necessarily a cause for concern. Harbo got the luxury of not being pressured into making a premature decision, and he took it.
Is there a positive side to that though?
It’s one thing you have to decide between two high-end studs who have proven to be the difference makers in college. This is not the case here, however. More than a manager of the game during last season’s Big Ten and berth at College Football Playoff, McNamara made an appearance in the Orange Bowl when the Wolverines couldn’t muster anything offensively against eventual national champion Georgia.
Is that all McNamara can offer, or is there more in the tank that last season didn’t show? That’s the mystery, and that’s why there’s some skepticism about whether this is a championship-caliber team heading into the season.
Did McCarthy create a culture of competition that raised the bar for both players, or did the former five-star in the 2021 class not live up to the hype? Perhaps he was unable to get past McNamara despite much fanfare. Those seem to be the only two options, which is why there is lingering doubt about the future of Harbaugh’s Wolverines.