Cade McNamara isn’t concerned with the run-heavy offensive attack.
The junior quarterback’s passing numbers to this point do not jump out. He’s 24-of-37 for 371 yards and 3 touchdowns. This would be a great performance for one game, but not exactly a stellar stat line for a three-game stint. Still, McNamara’s confidence hasn’t wavered.
"As we’re studying other teams, as we’re preparing for other teams, we’re prepared to throw the ball and run the ball," McNamara explained. "And depending on how the game goes and as we’re exposing some weaknesses in the defense, that can determine the ratio. And whatever the ratio is, we’re 3-0."
It’s true. Where the Wolverines lack in the passing game, they’ve more than made up for it on the ground. Michigan currently boasts the number one rushing attack in all of college football — averaging 350.3 yards per game.
While the running backs have carried the offense, having McNamara at the helm has provided the team with another pivotal trait: leadership. That’s the reason why McNamara has taken charge as starting quarterback while players who were more highly touted recruits, like Joe Milton and Dylan McCaffrey, transferred out. That’s the reason why Harbaugh made McNamara his QB1, even with talented signal callers JJ McCarthy and Alan Bowman joining the team.
McNamara has brought stability to the quarterback position, and he’s done so ever since he entered the Rutgers game last season.
“He capitalized [on the opportunity] — the biggest statement you can make is coming into a game like that,” Harbaugh said. “That’s your opportunity. 17 points down, I think it was. Rally the team, comeback victory. That does a lot. Does a tremendous amount for your own confidence and the belief everybody has in an individual.”
Now, as Rutgers comes to town this weekend, it's a full circle moment for McNamara. The entire team has thrown their support behind him, and that chemistry is helping to create a winning football culture. That difference was punctuated in the destruction of NIU this past weekend.
"Last week, I think we proved we can be really consistent," McNamara said. "Our errors were the lowest I think it’s ever been, even in practice. Us continuing to play at that level is going to be huge for us."
McNamara hasn’t needed to do much with his arm to this point, but tougher tests await. As Michigan enters Big Ten play, it can’t expect to run the ball down the throat of every opponent the entire game. Eventually, the Wolverines will be trailing in the second half, and they’ll need McNamara’s arm to get them back in the game. But he believes he’s got the skills to do it.
“I think that’s a big strength of my game — getting the ball out fast,” McNamara said. “When we’re doing the competitive periods during practice, me having to get the ball out really fast, with rushers like [redshirt freshman linebacker David] Ojabo and [junior defensive end] Aidan [Hutchinson], these guys getting after me, really keeps me in that motion, making the games almost easier."
A year ago, after that fateful triple overtime win against the Scarlet Knights, McNamara delivered a fiery proposition to the locker room:
“What happens if we win out, huh? Who’s gonna remember all the fucking games before (this), man?”
This season, with McNamara under center, Michigan might finally get to answer those questions.