McNamara says the team is ‘not content or satisfied’ after defeating NIU

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ANN ARBOR, Mich — Michigan dismantled NIU on Saturday in all three phases of the game as it went on to win 63-10.

The Wolverines rushed for 373 yards in the game, and this is now three straight games with 300-plus running yards. The maize and blue now have 1,051 rushing yards through three weeks of play.

There was plenty of talk after the Washington game last week when Michigan only attempted 15 passes — and only 44 passing yards — for the entire game. Many people wanted to see Cade McNamara throw the ball a little more, and for the play-calling not to be so conservative.

Those same people got their wish come true on Saturday. McNamara and J.J. McCarthy combined to throw the ball 17 times, but they threw for 233 yards. McNamara himself went 8-for-11 for 191 yards and one touchdown.

After the lackluster aerial attack in the Washington game, Harbaugh says that the goal was to throw the ball more this week.

“Yeah, that was a goal of ours going into the game,” said Harbaugh. “We wanted to rush for 200 yards and pass for 200 yards. It felt like the timing’s there and the execution’s been there in practice.”

With all the talk from last week about Michigan not throwing it more, did that give the team added motivation? McNamara says he heard the chatter but notes that it didn’t affect the team.

“Yeah, I didn’t think it had anything to do with the passing game,” said McNamara. “I heard some stuff, but it didn’t really affect us. Whatever the team it is will influence what we call and what we run. I think whatever is called and run then it’s our job to execute it whether it’s a run or pass. We saw a weakness in Washington’s defense in running the ball and we took advantage of that weakness. This week we saw a weakness in being able to take some shots, so we took advantage of that weakness this week.”

McNamara says the offense saw some tendencies on film, which indicated they could throw the deep ball against NIU. And while they didn’t connect on a ton of deep balls, the 87-yard touchdown throw to Cornelius Johnson was the third-longest pass in Michigan history.

“We knew the defense was going to play a little low based on what we seen on film,” said McNamara. “Coach Gattis called some shots and we were able to execute. I think we took three shots and only connected on one of them, so we have some work to do.”

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Although McNamara missed on two of the deep throws and he would assuredly like those back, Harbaugh and McNamara both enjoyed hitting on the long TD. Harbaugh pulled McNamara aside after the throw and told him that was exactly what he wanted to see.

“Yeah, I told him that was tremendous,” said Harbaugh. “I thought Cade hung in the pocket good, he went through his progression, and thought he threw a perfect pass. The post he threw going into the north endzone was really good – also to C.J.”

“Yeah, it felt good that C.J. and I finally connected on one,” McNamara added. “We talked about doing a double-move since we took some play-action throws early.”

McNamara only played in the first half due to the Wolverines being up 35-7 at halftime, so the coaches elected to get J.J. McCarthy some playing time. He finished going 4-for-6 (again) for 42 yards.

Michigan is now sitting at 3-0 and it is headed into Big Ten play next week when it hosts Rutgers. McNamara says the team is ready for the next set of challenges to come starting with Week 4 onward.

“We’re really confident. This team is not content or satisfied at all. We’re aware now that the season begins – now that we play Big Ten opponents – I think this is where this team expected to be.”

Tune in next week to see how the Wolverines handle the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

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