The Wolverine

2021 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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58 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2021 FOOTBALL PREVIEW FRONT-RUNNER Cade McNamara Gets The Early Stamp Of Approval BY JOHN BORTON [ QUA RT E R B AC K S ] N ew Michigan quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss broke the usual code of silence sur- rounding signal-callers this spring. Instead of waiting well into fall camp to name a leading QB, Weiss just lofted it out there. Redshirt freshman Cade McNamara is the man — for now. Of course, that declaration and $577,461 will get you a new Lamborghini SVJ roadster. McNamara faces several tests before he takes the field first against Western Michigan Sept. 4. He must stay healthy and continue looking the best among Michigan's quarter- backs, like he did in spring ball. He needs to hold off the rookie challenge from true freshman J.J. McCarthy, whose playbook knowledge and next-level adjustment is catching up to his considerable talent. And McNamara needs to prove better than incoming Texas Tech graduate transfer Alan Bowman, a redshirt sophomore who threw for 1,602 yards and 10 touchdowns a year ago. In other words, nothing's settled, Weiss' post- spring declaration of McNamara as Michigan's No. 1 field general notwithstanding. Still, Weiss didn't stop there, commending McNamara for his decision-making, accuracy and arm strength, before boldly predicting that the youngster "will end up playing 10 years in the NFL." McNamara is the only quarterback on the roster to have started a game for Michigan. He appeared in four contests last season, starting against Penn State after coming on to save the game at Rutgers. In the latter, he threw for 260 yards and four touchdowns on a 27-of-36 effort, bringing the Wolverines back from a 17-0 deficit and delivering a 48-42, triple-overtime win. The victory marked half of U-M's triumph total in a COVID-truncated season. On the year, he completed 43 of 71 passes for 425 yards with five touch- downs. The Nittany Lions knocked him out of his only start early in the game, and COVID canceled all that remained of the season. Jon Jansen, the former U-M All-American lineman, noted there are definitely reasons for Weiss' confidence in the young quarterback. "I think it was pretty obvious," Jansen told The Wolverine. "When you look at his experience, while it's not a huge amount, they've got nothing on J.J. McCarthy. He's a freshman coming in. Until the bright lights come on, you never know how he's going to react. "You know how Cade's going to react. If you can improve on what you saw last year … in the Rutgers game, there were some things you could build upon. Had he not been hurt, maybe he would have played better in that last game. Who knows?" Knowing, at least a little, means a lot at this point. "You've got a known quantity," Jansen said. "You can go with Cade and know, at a minimum, this is what we're going to get." Jansen talked about what he's seen, which in- volves a young quarterback able to deliver a catchable ball. QUICK FACTS Position Coach: Matt Weiss (first year). Returning Starter: None. Departing Starter: Joe Milton (5 career starts; transferred to Tennessee). Projected New Starter: Cade McNamara (1). Top Reserves: J.J. McCarthy and Alan Bowman (16 at Texas Tech). Wait Until 2022: Dan Villari. Newcomers: McCarthy and Bowman. Moved In: None. Moved Out: Milton and Dylan McCaffrey (transferred to Northern Colorado). Rookie Impact: McCarthy. Most Improved Player: McNamara. Best Pro Prospect: McCarthy. McNamara took 132 offensive snaps in his four game appearances last year according to Pro Football Focus. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN YEAR-BY-YEAR PASSING STATS Year Passing Yards Touchdowns Interceptions 2020* 1,502 9 4 2019 3,261 25 9 2018 2,804 24 9 2017 2,226 9 10 2016 2,756 20 7 2015 3,090 21 10 2014 2,042 10 18 2013 3,221 21 13 2012 2,591 20 19 2011 2,377 22 16 * Only played six games due to COVID-19 pandemic

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