J.J. McCarthy has likelihood to show himself vs. top-ranked Illinois protection

Jim Harbaugh confronted one of the crucial difficult personnel choices of his teaching profession heading into this 12 months’s faculty soccer season.

The eighth-year Michigan head coach had two strong quarterback choices at his disposal in Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy, and whereas each earned the fitting to be beneath middle for the Wolverines, he knew a call needed to be made.

So, Harbaugh let the competitors play out on the sphere. McNamara — who began all 14 video games for the Wolverines in 2021 and led the group to a Large Ten championship and their first-ever spot within the School Soccer Playoff — began the season-opener in opposition to Colorado State. McCarthy — who’s the extra gifted athlete, however solely tried 42 complete passes as a real freshman whereas enjoying behind McNamara — acquired the beginning within the group’s second sport in opposition to Hawaii.

Ultimately, it was McCarthy who shined the brightest, throwing for 229 yards and three touchdowns in a dominant 56-10 victory over the Rainbow Warriors. He was finally named the group’s starter following that sport and has been terrific ever since, serving to information the Wolverines to an ideal 10-0 file heading into Saturday’s Large Ten showdown in opposition to Illinois.

McCarthy ranks second within the Large Ten in each passing effectivity (157.6) and completion proportion (69%). By way of 10 video games, he has thrown 14 touchdowns to simply two interceptions and has gotten it finished along with his legs as nicely, totaling 195 yards and three scores on the bottom.

However whereas Michigan’s sophomore signal-caller has been regular beneath middle this season, the Wolverines are a group that depends closely on the run, rating second within the convention in dashing makes an attempt and main the Large Ten in each dashing yards and touchdowns.

In line with FOX Sports activities faculty soccer analyst Joel Klatt, McCarthy can have the prospect to show himself on Saturday in opposition to one of many stingiest defenses not solely within the Large Ten, however all through the complete nation.

Illinois vs. No. 3 Michigan preview | The Joel Klatt Present

Joel Klatt mentioned why this sport will likely be a check for J.J. McCarthy’s confidence in opposition to the Ohio State Buckeyes.

“This game is going to be all about J.J. McCarthy,” Klatt stated on a current episode of his podcast, “The Joel Klatt Show.” “He started playing really efficient football, leading the country in completion percentage, and then all of a sudden, they got Blake Corum in the Heisman race and they’ve just totally learned on that.”

Corum has been the centerpiece of this Michigan offense all through the 2022 marketing campaign, rating second within the Large Ten in dashing yards (1,349) and touchdowns (18). He has established himself as a official Heisman Trophy candidate, at the moment listed because the third favourite (+550), per FOX Wager, to take house faculty soccer’s most prestigious particular person award.

However with Illinois’ protection targeted on slowing down Corum, McCarthy can have the prospect to shine in a sport that may precede the most important matchup of his younger profession.

“J.J. McCarthy has the opportunity to develop against a defense that will give him really tight windows,” Klatt stated. “As a QB, you’ve gotta be on time, you’ve gotta make quick decisions, be ready to throw, and you gotta throw the ball accurately.”

Michigan and Illinois are set to kick off at midday ET Saturday on the Large Home. If the Wolverines can get by the Illini and Ohio State is ready to beat Maryland (3:30 p.m. ET), it’ll arrange one of many most-anticipated video games of this decade subsequent weekend between Large Ten rivals Michigan and Ohio State.

“Imagine if he plays really well against Illinois, the confidence he will build for next week’s game against Ohio State on the road,” Klatt stated of McCarthy. “That’s what this game is all about.”

Learn extra:

Every week, FOX Sports activities faculty soccer analyst Joel Klatt dives into his High 10 groups, solutions questions and discusses the most important storylines in faculty soccer on his podcast. Obtain “The Joel Klatt Show” right here.

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