Jim Harbaugh assesses J.J. McCarthy’s Week 3 performance

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — What goes up must at some point come down. And after J.J. McCarthy spent the first two weeks of the college football season at the mountaintop, he crashed down into the valley in Week 3.

The Michigan football quarterback struggled mightily against Bowling Green, starting with an interception he threw in the end zone. McCarthy ended up throwing two more and nearly threw another — which ended up being tipped and caught for a touchdown by Cornelius Johnson in the third quarter.

McCarthy still threw two touchdowns and managed to drive the field often, but didn’t have lofty yardage numbers and certainly walked away feeling like it was the worst performance he’s had, at least in a win, during his Michigan football tenure.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh wasn’t on the sidelines but watched the game remotely. He reacted on Monday to McCarthy’s struggles upon reflecting on the game.

“What’s scary good? Sometimes I say scary good. ‘Gosh, it’s scary good right now.’ What does that mean? Scary good is that’s where you want to be,” Harbaugh said. “But the law of averages is gonna catch up to you at some point, and you do what you can to keep those balls in the air. They want to come down. So, yeah, where were we? Where were we just at? We were comparing touchdowns-to-incompletions ratio. We weren’t talking touchdowns-to-interceptions, because there hadn’t been — there’s no way that that’s gonna continue. I mean, it’s not gonna happen that way.”

RELATED: Ranking the Big Ten QBs after Week 3

That said, Harbaugh still likes McCarthy’s mentality, even if he didn’t have the best performance. Ultimately, he believes the Wolverines quarterback will learn from his mistakes and be better for it.

“You want confident, you want aggressive, optimistic, that everything’s gonna work out,” Harbaugh said. “And there’s a little bit of, sometimes even as a football player, optimistic bias that can get you in trouble. Sometimes leaves you unprepared, it certainly does in life. Now in football or athletics, you’re much better off there than playing scared. It works out better when you when you play that way.

“But yeah, some precautions got to be taken and some risks avoided. And turnovers — the ball, ball security, that’s the big one. So plenty to learn from, plenty to coach, and super excited about it. J.J. is smart enough to know he didn’t play a very good game. But he’s also smart enough to know that he can learn from it as well.”

McCarthy has a reputation for being a gunslinger in an offensive system that calls for control. Most often, he’s had that. He threw with pinpoint accuracy in the first two games, never really putting the ball in harm’s way. That all changed on Saturday.

So, what precisely did McCarthy do wrong in Harbaugh’s eyes? Was there a common denominator he was able to determine? McCarthy’s head coach was able to pinpoint a few factors that led to the quarterback’s errant day.

“See the throw, see the completion is critical and being in a good base,” Harbaugh said. “Eye discipline broke down for J.J. and then he let it rip without seeing the throw or seeing the completion. Threw another one off — kind of like a fadeaway jumper that he didn’t have to fade away on. That one did not get intercepted. Could have, throwing it right over a defensive tackle that got tipped, and was actually completion.”

McCarthy will have another chance to prove that Week 3 was a fluke when Michigan hosts Rutgers at noon EDT on Saturday. That game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire