J.J. McCarthy has the talent, no question about it.
It took three full quarters. But by then, Michigan was well on its way to blowing out Rutgers. The Wolverines (9-0, 6-0) spent the first half taking body shots from the Scarlet Knights (4-5, 1-5). But once the second half started, Michigan countered with powerful hooks to the head of their opponent. Michigan ended up out scoring Rutgers 38-0 in the second half. Which was more than enough to help them cover the spread, you’re welcome.
Running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards each gained 109 yards on the ground. Both guys did what they’ve done time and time again this season – dominate.
But one of the few negatives for Michigan was the play of quarterback J.J. McCarthy. The sophomore went 13-for-27 with 151 yards and 2 touchdown passes. McCarthy added a rushing touchdown as well.
He didn’t turn the ball over or take a huge loss for a sack. But he was very inconsistent throwing the ball and took an unnecessary big hit along the sideline when he could’ve easily went out of bounds.
It obviously didn’t affect the outcome of the game. But that’s against a much inferior opponent.
What’s going to happen if McCarthy plays like this against Ohio State? Or Georgia? Or Tennessee?
McCarthy has the talent to be an elite quarterback. He’s one of the fastest quarterbacks in the country. He has the arm talent to make all the throws.
It’s Time to Step It Up
But talent is only part of the equation. Executing on it is another. That’s where McCarthy has struggled. Passes over 10 yards has been a pain point for him all year. He was continuously overthrowing receivers on deep passes at the start of the year. He’s gotten better with overthrowing guys, but he still doesn’t connect on long throws enough.
He also needs to learn to avoid big hits from defenders. The hit he took during the Rutgers game was completely avoidable and didn’t need to happen. The extra yard he gained by taking the hit did not pick up a first down or put the offense in field goal range.
McCarthy has taken a few big hits this year. So far he’s avoided injury. But that’s not a door you want to keep knocking on. At some point, that door is going to open and smack you hard enough to hurt you.
Teammates and fans love seeing their quarterback do what it takes to get that extra yard. But it’s not worth it when you’re greatly increasing your chances of injury.
And if J.J. McCarthy gets hurt, do you expect any of his backups to be effective? The answer to that question is no. Cade McNamara isn’t standing in uniform on the sideline waiting to get his job back.
The good thing is that McCarthy still has time to become more consistent. Michigan has two home games against Nebraska and Illinois before heading to Ohio State.
If he can’t get better at hitting his receivers down field, that three-hour bus ride back from Columbus might not be a fun one.
(AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)