Michigan QB McCarthy wants to be 'unstoppable force,' more efficient in passing game

The Detroit News
West Bloomfield − Expectations are high for returning starting Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, but he seemed at-ease as usual talking about the upcoming season shortly before he hit the golf course on Monday.
Michigan’s players report Tuesday for preseason camp, but about 30, including McCarthy, as well as assistant coaches and staff, participated in the Champions Circle Golf Classic featuring head coach Jim Harbaugh at Orchard Lake Country Club. The event was organized by Valiant Management as a fund-raising opportunity for NIL.
A live auction followed with items like a golf experience for two with Harbaugh and seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and a trip for two to join Michigan on its spring trip abroad in 2024 with possible destinations including Tokyo, Israel/Egypt and Greece.
It was a light afternoon for Michigan’s players ahead of camp as the Wolverines try to make it three-straight Big Ten titles. McCarthy led Michigan to a 13-1 record after taking over in Game 2 as the starter, a win over Ohio State in Columbus, a second Big Ten championship and appearance in the College Football Playoff.
McCarthy said everything is clicking.
“I’m feeling absolutely amazing about the season, to be honest with you,” McCarthy told The Detroit News. “I feel like I’m in such a good rhythm right now, mentally, physically, spiritually. I couldn’t ask to be in a better spot.”
He is 10 pounds heavier than he was at the end of last season and enters this camp wanting to improve on a few areas like his efficiency in the pass game.
“And to be able to facilitate the football in many different ways than what we just were usually doing,” he said. “Being able to use my legs more and just use that as a threat. Just be an unstoppable force.”
McCarthy will be working behind an offensive line that has added critical pieces from the transfer portal in the offseason and looks to win the Joe Moore Award as the nation’s top offensive line for a third straight year. He has highly rated running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards in the backfield, Colston Loveland and transfer A.J. Barner at tight end, and receivers including veterans Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson.
“I’ve never been on a team as talented as the one I’m on right now,” McCarthy said. “Extremely blessed to have those guys around me.”
Last week at Big Ten media days, Harbaugh, a former Michigan quarterback, referred to McCarthy as a “a once-in-a-generational” quarterback at Michigan. He described him as at the top of his game in every way and being a selfless teammate. Harbaugh said McCarthy is similar to Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in the way they interact with their teammates and also in playmaking ability.
“It’s a tremendous honor to receive that praise from Coach Harbaugh, because I value his opinion so much,” McCarthy said. “For me, personally, I take it as, ‘OK, that’s great he thinks of me that way, but I eventually want to be better than those guys.’ I want to be the best version of myself, whatever that is.
"I just focus on what abilities I have, what weaknesses I have and how I can improve those weaknesses. I don’t really get too much into comparisons because we’re all unique, we’re our own individuals. I'd like to think of myself as a player of that caliber one day, but right now I’m trying to focus on me.”
Corum, who is coming off knee surgery last December to repair damage suffered in the final home game, said he sees McCarthy incredibly focused and resistant to letting any talk of his talents flatter or fluster him.
“J.J. is calm, cool and collected,” Corum said Monday. “I don’t think he lets stuff get to him. As any great player does, they don’t let things fill up their head. J.J. is J.J. and J.J. will always be J.J. He’s not gonna be a Patrick Mahomes, a Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen. He’s not gonna be those guys. J.J.’s gonna be J.J. McCarthy, and I think he knows that. He doesn’t want to be anyone else.
“I’m very excited to see where he goes this year. With a year under his belt, it’s gonna get scary.”
Harbaugh said earlier this summer the offense, now coordinated solely by Sherrone Moore, will be more 50-50 in terms of run-pass. Last year, it was about 60-40 run pass.
“In anything in life, when you have that perfect balance, you’re gonna be successful,” McCarthy said. “Adding that to our offense is gonna be tremendous for us.”
McCarthy has been working with quarterbacks coach Kirk Campbell since Matt Weiss was fired in February as an investigation continues into alleged computer crimes in the football building. It has been an easy transition for McCarthy and he said he is flourishing under Campbell’s guidance.
“I love him,” McCarthy said. “That’s my guy. For me, there’s so many amazing football coaches out there, but when you add an amazing coach and an amazing human being, that’s the total package and that’s who he is.”
Michigan is expected to be without Harbaugh the first four games while he serves game-day suspensions as part of a negotiated resolution with the NCAA, which alleged Harbaugh lied to and misled investigators looking into Level II recruiting violations during a COVID dead period in 2021.
It’s unclear who will coach when Harbaugh is out, but McCarthy joked he’d love to call plays in those games. Joking aside, he said they have given him a bit more freedom on the field.
“They’ve opened up options like that where it’s we have individual routes, or I can give them a route or I can check to certain looks if I see it,” he said.
“We have certain plays I’ll have to make certain checks based on the defense, but then we have other plays where it’s designed if they show a certain look I can audible it myself. That’s been super heartwarming to me knowing they have that trust in me.”

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