ANN ARBOR, Mich. — J.J. McCarthy entered his third start of the season, against Maryland, completing 88% of his passes and possessing a 234 QB rating.
Going up against a bottom-tier pass defense, McCarthy was expected to tear up the Terps’ secondary — many people believed. But that didn’t exactly happen.
No, the sophomore didn’t have a bad game. He completed 69% of his throws. He passed for 220 yards. And he threw two touchdown passes on the day. But there were some low parts that showed the inexperience of the first-year starter.
After the game, McCarthy said this wasn’t his best performance and there were things he would like back. But he was extremely happy with how the team responded when it needed to. The Wolverines did what they needed when they needed to do it.
“It definitely wasn’t my best performance,” said McCarthy. “And I want some things back that went out there. But I was happy with the way we were able to move the ball when times where we needed to respond. And that was a good team out there. I mean, Maryland’s got a great defense, they got a great offense, and I was just happy with the way we responded with some adversity.”
McCarthy found himself dancing around the pocket a few times. On two of those times, he fumbled the ball, but Michigan recovered both. McCarthy talked about the importance of ball security and he needs to do a better job with that. He said the first fumble was due to his holding the ball too hard, and the second time — he was really running around — he said he should’ve just thrown the ball away.
“I mean, the one fumble that I had, it was just I was seat-belting it like I always was told to and I was just squeezing too hard,” said McCarthy. “And once one little budge happened the ball came out so that’s always a huge priority for us is ball security and I just got to do a better job. Then the other one I mean, that’s one of those plays where I want back where I just got to get rid of the ball make sure I don’t get myself in a situation like that. And I kind of knew I was down just because the ball hit the ground when I was trying to stay up.”
McCarthy could have gone from having a pretty good day against Maryland to having an exceptional day if he could’ve hit the deep ball. He consistently overthrew his receivers. The sophomore missed three throws downfield that he should’ve hit. McCarthy says there is no timing issue with his playmakers. Instead, he said that his arm was at 110%, and he needs to dial it back during practice this week.
“Yeah, with the timing, I don’t think that’s an issue at all,” said McCarthy. “I take full responsibility for all those that have missed on. My arm was feeling like 110% today, and it’s been a while since it’s felt like that. So just being able to go through the practice practices this week and be able to adjust and dial it back a little bit more. It’s gonna be huge.”
The game on Saturday was the “Big Noon Kickoff” on Fox. Former Michigan star Charles Woodson is an analyst on the show, and he watched the duration of the game. Woodson looked for the former five-star recruit after the game to share some thoughts with him. McCarthy said that Woodson told him to use his legs more — it’s a gift he has.
“He was just kind of telling me just everything that was going on with the game and his insights and all that,” said McCarthy. “But the big thing that stood out to me with him was just use my legs more. I mean, God gave me them for a reason. And when I’m sitting back there, and I’m not seeing anything open, just run. I mean that’s I took that wholeheartedly, and that’s something that I really need to do. But, yeah, it was just great. Just G.O.A.T advice right there.”