Cade McNamara prepared to pass more when called upon

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan football fans have been wondering, quite loudly, whether or not the Wolverines’ pass game with Cade McNamara could pass muster against tougher opponents. It’s a fair question, considering that the maize and blue have opted to run the ball — which it has done with impunity. As the team leads the nation with the No. 1 rushing offense, what will happen when McNamara absolutely needs to pass?

To be short, he’s not concerned.

The team is aware that at some point it will need to rely on the passing game, but so far the game plans have called for dominance in the run game. After the Washington game, Jim Harbaugh even admitted that the plan was to run as often as possible.

But McNamara says that when the time comes to pass, he’ll be ready. It all just depends on what the defense’s weaknesses and strengths are.

“My take is that, basically, as we’re studying other teams, as we’re preparing for other teams, we’re prepared to throw the ball and run the ball,” McNamara said. “Depending on how the game goes and we’re exposing some weaknesses on the defense, that can determine the ratio. Whatever the ratio is, we’re 3-0, so it’s working.”

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Though the offense looks much improved through three weeks, it’s not a finished product. Of course, the unit has been quite imbalanced, but whichever way you slice it, McNamara says that there are still things to work on in all phases of that side of the ball.

“Honestly, just our consistency, whether it’s running the ball or throwing the ball,” McNamara said. “Us developing our consistency in game level, and last week I think we proved we could be extremely consistent. Our errors were the lowest it’s ever been, even in practice, was in the game. Us continuing to play at that level is gonna be huge for us.”

The other big question remains: who will step up in Ronnie Bell’s absence?

Losing your primary target, no matter how deep the room is, is going to hurt. And in Week 1, Bell was starting to showcase just how important he is to the Wolverines. Since Michigan didn’t really try to pass the ball in Week 2, we saw glimpses of Cornelius Johnson and Daylen Baldwin. But then the run game picked up again, and the pass game took a back seat once more.

So, who does McNamara anticipate will be the next man up? He says it will be a combination of players.

“I think just a combination of the whole room, as we get deeper into the season, whoever it is — whether it’s Mikey Sainristil who is a great player, and we haven’t even needed to use him yet,” McNamara said. “When it comes down to Mikey, when it comes down to Daylen, we have a — going into the season, we knew we had a deep room there. We have a lot of guys that can step up, whether they can be used right now, but I can see them being used in the future.”

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McNamara is truly obsessed with the game, which is helping him dig deeper into his repertoire. As much as he can, he’s not only studying the playbook — which his teammates have often noted he’s an avid playbook and film student — but he takes in as much football as he can.

He particularly likes watching the younger stars of the professional ranks and seeing how their methods can work for him while he’s in Ann Arbor.

“I love watching football,” McNamara said. “When I’m not studying film or doing schoolwork, I’m usually watching football on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. I like recognizing, especially the younger guys in the league, I love to watch. I love watching Baker Mayfield, I love watching Patrick Mahomes. And watching them, I’m maybe (able) to see something and test it out in practice. I think that level of watching them on TV while also — we sometimes watch them on film as well — we can correlate concepts to our own and see how fast they can get through them or how they’re approaching that concept vs. that defense. I think I’m able to use that information to help improve my game.”

With that in mind, has he tried to do any of Mahomes’ trick plays, like his no-look pass? McNamara is somewhat mum about it, but admits, yes, he’s tried some of the Chiefs’ signal caller’s signature moves.

“I might have — I have a couple. But I don’t know if it’s ready for prime time!”

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