Michigan football's Jim Harbaugh names Cade McNamara starting QB, team is 99% vaccinated

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The first of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s weekly news conferences took place on Monday outside Schembechler Hall in preparation for the season opener vs. Western Michigan on Saturday.

Harbaugh spoke to reporters for 17 minutes ahead of a pressure-packed season for both himself and the program following an abbreviated, yet dismal, 2020 campaign that saw the Wolverines lose all three games at home.

Here are the highlights from Harbaugh’s media session:

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Cade McNamara is officially Michigan’s starting quarterback

Harbaugh reiterated what most people inside and outside the program expected by naming McNamara the starter for Saturday’s game against WMU. . A junior from Nevada, McNamara secured the job with a combination of poise, verbal leadership and a level of consistency that drew praise from his teammates dating to spring practice.

“Cade McNamara is our starting quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “Constant improvement. He’s ratcheted it up, really, in a lot of different areas. The biggest one: consistency. Just consistency of doing his job. Also, call it a talent of really making everybody else around you better. Maybe that is the most important job of a quarterback.

“Really locked in. Really knows his assignments. Great work ethic and just the unselfishness, I think, is probably the biggest thing that sticks out about his leadership. His desire to get the ball to the playmakers and make people around him better, including the offensive line.”

Shortly after Harbaugh named McNamara the starter, a reporter asked how that would influence the playing time of true freshman quarterback and former five-star recruit J.J. McCarthy, and whether there was the possibility of McCarthy seeing time under center. .

Harbaugh largely sidestepped the question.

“Well, I mean, all options will be open,” Harbaugh said. “All options will be open about playing J.J. (McCarthy) or anybody else on our roster.”

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Nearly everyone is vaccinated

A week ago, the Big Ten issued a statement saying any member institution that is unable to play a game during the 2021 season due to an outbreak of COVID-19 will forfeit the contest without the possibility of rescheduling the game.

It can be argued the harsh nature of the penalty was designed as an incentive for players, coaches and staff members across the conference to get vaccinated and reduce the risk of widespread transmission that could fell an entire team.

In that regard, nearly all the Wolverines have done their part to give the program its best chance at success this season: On Monday, Harbaugh said his team is 99% vaccinated

The remaining 1% of players, he explained, must continue wearing masks inside the football facility and attend certain meetings virtually rather than in person with the rest of their teammates.

“Other accommodations are made,” Harbaugh said, though he declined to say whether the unvaccinated players are likely to get vaccinated in the near future.

“I don’t want to speak for anybody else,” he said. “But that’s where we are right now.”

The Wolverines are healthy

With preseason camp held entirely behind closed doors, reporters had little sense of what Michigan’s injury report might look like ahead of the season opener.

But any potential concerns were largely quelled Monday when Harbaugh listed only three players who will be unable to play this weekend, barring any additional injuries during practice between now and Saturday.

Junior tight end Hunter Neff, sophomore wide receiver Jake Thaw and senior running back Lucas Andrighetto are out for the season, Harbaugh said.

None of those players saw game action during the shortened 2020 campaign.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan football's Jim Harbaugh names QB, team is 99% vaccinated