After benching Joe Milton in favor of Cade McNamara, Jim Harbaugh has created quite a scenario for himself.
Milton is a confident guy with all the talent in the world, but after such a poor outing that led to him getting yanked, he's got to be shaken a bit. He watched McNamara throw three of the prettiest balls you'll ever see, one of which was a touchdown, from the sidelines, and must be wondering now if he's still the starter or not.
McNamara on the other hand must feel like he deserves to be the guy. He went into the game against Wisconsin and instantly found success and didn't look out of place at all.
Luckily for Michigan (I think?), Harbaugh has a chance to figured it out and make a decision against Rutgers this weekend. Will it be Milton or McNamara who trots out there with the ones on Saturday?
While it’s entirely too premature to determine that McNamara gives the Wolverines the best shot at winning after one successful drive, I also agree that it’s time to make the move. Here’s why...
Outside of the coaching staff, many within the fan base primarily blame Milton for the offensive struggles over the last three weeks. Milton has often looked rushed, rattled and inconsistent in how he delivers the ball downfield. There’s no question that Milton needs to perform far better moving forward if he hopes to keep his job, but it’s still too difficult to determine whether or not Michigan’s offensive struggles are the result of poor quarterback play, or if poor quarterback play is the result of bigger issues elsewhere.
Keep in Mind, Michigan is now playing with an entirely new offensive line, is missing one of its top targets from 2019 (Nico Collins) and has a defense that struggles to keep opponents out of the end zone (giving up 34.5 points per game).
That’s where McNamara comes in. For lack of a better phrase, McNamara can essentially serve as the Wolverine’s canary in the coal mine.
Unleashing McNamara on the road against Rutgers can benefit the Wolverines in a couple of ways. The most obvious benefit and best case scenario would be if McNamara proves himself to be the clear choice moving forward through his performance. Having a clear No.1 for the remainder of the season would do wonders for setting the table in 2021. The other benefit (less ideal) would be the reality that Michigan’s problems offensively are primarily elsewhere and not necessarily at the quarterback position.
Even if the less than ideal scenario plays out, it still provides Michigan with some much needed clarity as the attempt to salvage what’s left of the 2020 season.
I think the choice is easy: stick with Joe Milton.
At the end of the day, Milton is still figuring out the position with a brand new group in front of him, an almost brand new group to throw to and the weirdest running back rotation in the country behind him. I know, I know, those are just excuses that many other teams never seem to need. I agree, and do think Milton and many others need to be much better, but I think some more help from his receivers (less drops), some continuity of front and some sort of settled rotation at running back would help Milton immensely. And don't even get me started on the play calling.
I also still think that Milton has the most upside and the best chance to unleash an explosive college offense. It hasn't looked like it through four games, but I really don't think the coaches are doing him any favors. His size, strength, running ability and arm strength are all special. You simply can't teach what he has. Unfortunately, he's struggled with what you can teach.
Michigan should beat up on Rutgers giving Milton a chance to regain some confidence and make some big plays en route to a win. Of course, I felt the same way about Michigan State and I thought Michigan would beat Indiana as well. We all know how those games played out. Still, I think going back to Milton would be a huge step in the right direction in terms of helping him reach his potential and develop into a winning quarterback.