INDIANAPOLIS – Jim Harbaugh named Michigan's starting quarterback at Big Ten Media Days on Tuesday.
For the first day of fall camp, of course. Redshirt junior Cade McNamara will get that first fall-camp snap ahead of sophomore J.J. McCarthy. Where it goes from there still is undecided and will set the tone for the rest of Harbaugh's tenure at Michigan.
A witty back-and-forth with a reporter ensued in which Harbaugh asked them twice: "Who said McNamara wasn't the starter entering fall camp?"
Harbaugh then spelled out the next step on his terms.
"Cade's the starting quarterback," Harbaugh said. "When we line up for the first practice, he's going to be with the first team. Eventually, over the training camp, J.J. will get the same opportunity. He'll get the same opportunity that Cade will. They're both going to get a ton of reps. They'll be time to have that competition and determine who will be the starter for the first game."
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There are layers to arguably the most-intriguing quarterback battle in the FBS. How could it be possibl Assumption Greyhounds clothes e for the starting quarterback on the defending Big Ten champions to lose the job in August? Would Florida vs. Georgia Rivalry shirt a five-star sophomore be willing to be a backup for a second season without entertaining the transfer portal?
"It's going to be tough for Cade to beat J.J. out," Harbaugh said as his eyes darted back and forth. "It's going to be tough for J.J. to beat Cade out. We'll put the balls out there Aug. 3 and have at it."
McNamara emerged as a team leader in 2021. He finished with 2,576 yards, 1 UNC vs. Duke Rivalry Shirts 5 TDs and six interceptions. McCarthy accounted for 58.2 yards of offense per game on just 86 plays between passes and runs and was a significant role player on the offense.
"The really cool stat on Cade McNamara is over 50 percent of his drives end in points," Harbaugh said. "I don't know exactly what the number is for J.J., but it seems like every time he got in there and led a drive, it ended in points as well."
McCarthy offered a glimpse of those tempting play-making skills in the fourth quarter against Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinal loss, but he also missed most of the spring with a shoulder injury. Will he be ready in time for fall camp to push McNamara in earnest?
McCarthy might have more upside, but McNamara is the first Michigan quarterback to beat Ohio State in a decade. This isn't a decision that can be made like a video game. Either way, McNamara is gearing up for a third straight quarterback battle in fall camp.
"It's not something that's foreign to me at this point NCAA Crewneck SweatJerseys ," McNamara said. "Anything I do is going to be for the sake of the team winning, and that's what is the most important thing on my mind. What comes with that is having good relationships with my teammates."
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Harbaugh made this work in 2021, but that was with the help of a dominant running game. McNamara didn't have more than 200 yards passing in a game until the 32-29 victory against Nebraska on Nov. 9. McNamara also passed for 383 yards against Michigan State, a game the Wolverines lost 37-33 thanks in part to a fumble from McCarthy in the fourth quarter.
There were second guesses along the way. Why was McCarthy on the field in the fourth quarter against the Spartans when McNamara was hot? Why wasn't McCarthy on the field in the first half against the Bulldogs when McNamara was having an off night? That will be amplified given what's at stake in 2022.
After all, Michigan lost out on five-star quarterbacks in the next two classes in Dante Moore, a long-time Michigan lean who went to Oregon; and junior C.J. Carr, the grandson of former Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr who chose Notre Dame. McNamara and McCarthy have new co-offensive coordinators in Sherrone Moore and Matt Weiss, too.
Harbaugh also interviewed for the Minnesota Vikings job, and throughout his tenure one criticism has been the inability to develop a first-round quarterback. Harbaugh was the No. 26 pick in the 1987 NFL Draft and went on to a 14-year NFL career, and Andrew Luck became the No. 1 overall pick in the draft under Harbaugh's tutelage at Stanford.
There is a lot of pressure to get this quarterback decision right, and that's not even mentioning t Florida vs. Georgia Rivalry Jerseys he straddling act of keeping both quarterbacks happy and out of the portal during the regular season.
The McNamara-McCarthy debate offers shades of the dilemma Lloyd Carr had in 1998-99 with Tom Brady and Drew Henson. Brady was the starter, and Henson was the heralded five-star recruit and home-state hero. Brady mostly kept the job for those two seasons, and from 1998-2000 Michigan split two Big Ten championships and beat Ohio State twice in three years. At the time, few would have predicted Brady wou NCAA Nike College Sideline Gear ld start in 10 Super Bowls and Henson would play in nine NFL games.
The McNamara-McCarthy battle likely won't have those long-range implications, but it's a decision Harbaugh must nail in order to keep up with Ohio State, which has a returning Heisman finalist C.J. Stroud and a roomful of future first-round picks at wide receiver.
"Competitive but not combative," Harbaugh said of what he expects from that competition. "That's what we strive for, and that's exactly what we had last year. Both guys are great guys. Both teams guys. Both driven. Both dreaming of being that guy and both putting in that work the entire offseason. That's what we'll be shooting for again.
"The separators will be who plays better," Harbaugh said. "They're both really good. No. 1, is just how many times they go in and lead the team down the field and score a touchdown; put points on the board. That's the main criteria. Which guy can do that?"
Harbaugh will have time to figure it out. A soft early-season schedule has Michigan at home for its first four games before a road trip to Iowa (Oct. 1). The Big Ten East tests with Penn State (Oct. 15) and Michigan State (Oct. 29) are at the Big House, and that leads to the biggest question about McNamara and McCarthy.
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Which one of these quarterbacks can go to Ohio Stadium and win for the first time sinc Bronx Community College Broncos clothes e 2000? Henson was the last quarterback to do it in a 38-26 victory on Nov. 18, 2000. That was two years after the Buckeyes beat Brady-led Michigan 31-16 at The Shoe. The quarterback who can break that 22-year drought will be treated in the same vein as Harbaugh, who once guaranteed a victory at Ohio State in 1986 then delivered a 26-24 victory.
McNamara was asked about Ohio Stadium during his breakout session, and had a terse back-and-forth of his own with a reporter.
"I visited The Shoe when I was in seventh grade," McNamara said. "Just walked around it. I've heard plenty about it."
"Looking forward to anything in particular when the game comes around in November?" the reporter asked.
"Yeah," McNamara dead-panned. "I'll be look Forsyth Technical Community College Jerseys ing forward to it."
So will we. That is the first snap t UNC vs. Duke Rivalry Gear hat matters most in 2022.