The Wolverine

April 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 67

26 THE WOLVERINE APRIL 2022 BY CHRIS BALAS M ichigan football's quarter- back competition is going to be heated this fall, assuming sophomore J.J. McCarthy's shoulder heals as expected. But redshirt sophomore Cade McNamara made it clear recently he's not going anywhere. He's planning on winning the job again, and he's not afraid to say it. McNamara threw for 2,576 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago in a run-heavy of- fense. It was his ability to manage a game and avoid big mistakes that made him the best bet at the position last year, and he's off to a good start this spring, too. He also made it clear his confidence won't wane despite a faction of the fan base being considered 'Team J.J.' "I mean — I'm a Big Ten champion- ship-winning starting quarterback," he said when asked how he sees himself as a starter and how he views the competition. "And that's how I see it." And he's right, of course. McCarthy played in spots, but McNamara was the guy who led the Wolverines to their first Big Ten title since 2004. He was a de facto leader as the starting quarterback, and he'll play an even bigger role this year with several veterans having moved on. "Last year … I was one of a group of really good leaders with me, [center] An- drew Vastardis, [linebacker] Josh Ross and [defensive end] Aidan Hutchinson," he said. "We were able to share our voices amongst the team. It's my job now. I think I've established myself as a voice on this team. "It's going to be my job on this team to create leadership. I've already seen guys that are stepping up to the plate that are willing to take that role. It's my job as a leader to get those guys more juice, more opportunities to step into that role, as well. No matter how good a leader is, there can't always be one on one side of the ball. Someone has to be leading the defense, special teams … we have a long way to go. "I'm happy where we're at right now, but think it can get better." McNamara has put in the work in the offseason to make himself better, too. He's changed his diet and sleeping patterns, watching them more closely. He finds teammates to throw with any chance he gets and is always doing something to im- prove. When this fall comes, he expects to pick up where he left off — helping prepare his team for another title. "I think that's the challenge," he said. "Repeating a championship is even harder than winning a championship the first time. Half the team was not here. I think it's my job as a leader to ensure that we don't become complacent. "Obviously, we're still a super young team, and we have a long way to go until we play. Especially with the leadership on the team with the coaching staff, that's something we're going to have to fight. We know there's going to be a target on our back, and we're going to have to make sure our mindset is clean." But as a returning champion, he's been there before, something no returning starting quarterback at U-M could say since Chad Henne in 2004 heading into 2005. That's one of the reasons he's so confident. "I know what it takes, what a team has to look like," McNamara said. "I know what I have to do in order for us to do that. I know the level I think we have to be executing in, and also really the critical moments we have to execute in. "Our Big Ten championship [hopes] could have stopped at Penn State [last year]. Then there were four games to play the rest of the season. I think it's going to take [more of that mindset]. Obviously, our goal is to recreate that and do more." OFF AND RUNNING WITH A NEW LOOK They've already made strides this spring, and there are still months to go before the opener with Colorado State. McNamara and the rest of the quarter- backs will have a bit of an advantage this year, McNamara noted, after head coach Jim Harbaugh shook up his coaching staff. Offensive line coach Sherrone Moore returns as Michigan co-offensive coordi- nator, and he'll be involved in game plan- ning and calling plays. But so, too, will quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss, who was elevated to co-coordinator after Josh Gat- tis moved on to Miami. He's been involved in everything, McNamara noted, and it's been good for all the signal-callers. "I like it," McNamara said. "I think it's a good blend of me being able to share a re- ally personal relationship with him. He's the quarterbacks coach, so every single meeting, every single play in practice is evaluated through Coach Weiss with all of us in the quarterback room. "I think that pays dividends for us un- derstanding the play calling that much more and understanding what he's think- ing when he's making those calls." It's helped change their personal rela- tionship, too, McNamara continued. "When he first got here, I honestly was trying to share my experience with him in the offense because he was new to the of- fense," he continued. "I was trying to help BACK TO DEFEND A TITLE — AND A JOB Cade McNamara Is Confident In His Ability To Lead Michigan Again In 2022 McNamara threw for 2,576 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago in a run-heavy offense, leading the Wolverines to their first Big Ten title since 2004. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - April 2022