Michigan football’s Cade McNamara was blindsided by the QB’s “unusual” rotation. “I had my best camp”

For the first time, at least publicly, Michigan football’s Cade McNamara expressed his displeasure with the way the quarterback position is being handled.

McNamara started Saturday’s 51-7 win over Colorado State with sophomore JJ McCarthy slated to start Week 2 against Hawaii. Harbaugh announced that plan a week before kickoff, but in the days leading up to that decision, McNamara felt he was going to retain his title as the starter.

“I would definitely say it’s pretty unusual,” McNamara said after the game. “It was something I didn’t expect until the end of the camp. I thought I had my best camp, I thought I put myself in a good position, it was just the decision the coach made.”

McNamara led the Wolverines to their first Big Ten title since 2004 a season ago and was named a captain by his teammates this season. He was one of four Michigan representatives at Big Ten media day in Indianapolis over the summer, but was unable to win the job outright.

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“I was confident in the way I played in camp, I definitely felt that way,” he said. “You know, though, it’s not my decision. So whatever it is, whatever my role is — you know I’m honored my teammates recognized me for the role I’m in right now.

“That’s what it’s all about.”

The other reason for his low-key demeanor, probably, was that he wasn’t exactly polished on Saturday. McNamara completed just 9-of-18 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown and nearly threw an interception in the red zone that was instead thrown away.

McNamara led the offense into the red zone on four occasions, yet the team came away with just one touchdown and three field goals. For what it’s worth, Harbaugh cited drops as a primary reason for his yardage-to-touchdown ratio and added “you never get away from any criteria” when making that decision.

“There were some things that didn’t go right, but I thought we handled it pretty well,” McNamara said. “Something about the first game, I missed two targets, we had some turnovers, it was like the first game on the offensive side of the ball, so we have to clean it up and I’m a part of that. “

That was countered by McCarthy, who came in and ran the offense almost flawlessly after the Wolverines were already up 30-0, showing off the tantalizing ground speed and arm strength that made him a five-star candidate.

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On his third play of the game, the first time he didn’t give it away, McCarthy kept a read option and scampered 20 yards down the left side almost untouched for a touchdown.

“That was a plan,” Harbaugh said. “He has that kind of electric ability when he runs with the football. I thought he acquitted himself very well.”

McCarthy finished 4-for-4 passing for 30 yards, seemingly intentionally showing he could make the check-down pass. he’s doing his best to prove he’s willing to hit a single and not just a swing for the transportation fences.

He also added 50 yards on three carries as Michigan scored touchdowns on both of its drives.

Harbaugh stood by his decision to handle the quarterback competition to prove it on the field. Harbaugh said McNamara didn’t seem too happy when talking about the situation with the media and asked him what he should do to handle it and keep both quarterbacks in good spirits.

“I think we can all agree the way we do this, we have a lot more information after two weeks than we would have had two weeks ago,” he said. “I don’t feel like I have to manage it, they’re both formidable competitors and they’re both warriors.

“I don’t feel like I have to manage anything, I just have to go out there and let them compete and do what they do.”

McNamara reiterated, it’s not his decision. He said he knows Harbaugh has shown he doesn’t want to do that all season and wants to rely on just one guy, so “whatever it is, it’s going to be.”

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No career has a perfect trajectory, but the one-time four-star from Nevada was the quarterback of the Big Ten championship team. In July he said he felt confident in his position and that he had worked hard to earn the respect and trust of his teammates and coaches.

On Saturday, he admitted that the nature of his role in the team is something he has had to get used to.

“That’s something I’ve dealt with in whatever part of my career it’s been,” he said. “Whether it was before I played with Joe (Milton), if he eventually went, or it was last season and now this season.

“I think you know at this point that I’ve done a learning about how to deal with these things.”

This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Michigan’s Cade McNamara blindsided by ‘unusual’ QB spin.

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