Skip to main content

JJ McCarthy return in 2024 still possible despite excelling in expanded role

IMG_0985by:Griffin McVeigh10/10/23


Chris Balas on JJ Mccarthy's Future, Capitalizing On This Opportunity

Thinking about Michigan‘s offense the past two years, the run game really stands out. A two-time Joe Moore-winning offensive line has blocked for Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, leading to two Big Ten titles plus College Football Playoff appearances. JJ McCarthy has been there when called upon but not as the critical guy.

Jim Harbaugh has switched things up though, not relying on the ground game as much. Through six games, Michigan is averaging 185.2 yards per game, down from last season’s 238.9. Teams have adjusted defensively when facing the Wolverines.

“They need him a little more because teams are stacking up the run against them a little bit better,” Chris Balas of On3’s The Wolverine said via Tuesday’s episode of Andy Staples On3. “They aren’t going to let Michigan run for 300, 400 yards against them like they did last year. One thing Jim Harbaugh said about that is ‘You look around college football and the rushing numbers just aren’t where they were’ and he said that wasn’t normal.

“And he’s right. You’re not seeing teams break off 50, 60-yard runs like we saw from Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum. So, now you need JJ McCarthy to keep on that read option a little bit more.”

JJ McCarthy is excelling in expanded role through six games

If the ball is not being handed off, the offensive responsibility falls on McCarthy. Sherrone Moore is calling the quarterback’s number more often, most noticeably in early downs. Defenses are stacking boxes and expecting Michigan to attempt to run it down their throats.

Instead, McCarthy is dropping back to pass and to this point, the move has been quite effective.

“They’re opening it up a little bit more,” Balas said. “Running a lot of play action on first and second down when teams are coming up to the line of scrimmage and putting more responsibility on McCarthy. But for the one game against Bowling Green — which was an anomaly — he’s handling it perfectly.”

Per ESPN, McCarthy has the top QBR in college football and is averaging 9.9 passing yards per dropback. Looking at a more simple stat, his completion percentage is up by 13%. It’s no secret how well McCarthy is playing right now with his expanded role.

Despite recent success, return for 2024 season is still possibility

You might think with all the success McCarthy is having, he might be setting himself up nicely for the 2024 NFL Draft. In a recent mock draft, PFF pegged the Michigan quarterback to go in the first round, being a selection of the Minnesota Vikings.

Well, Balas claims McCarthy coming back to college is not crazy talk. Finishing out his senior season with Michigan before moving on to the NFL could be what McCarthy wants.

“JJ McCarthy, there is still talk that he might want to come back for his senior year, believe it or not,” Balas said.

Michigan quietly has best opportunity to win a national championship

Maybe winning a national championship will have an impact on McCarthy’s potential return. The Wolverines have crumbled in the College Football Playoff semifinals the past two seasons. Georgia was the favorite in 2021, while TCU pulled off a surprise win last year, breaking hearts in the Fiesta Bowl.

All focus in Ann Arbor has been on getting over the hump.

However, not much national attention has been placed on Michigan thus far due to its early season schedule. Their nonconference opponents have been highly scrutinized, while facing Minnesota, Nebraska, and Rutgers in Big Ten play (a combined 3-6 conference record early on) does not gain too much respect.

In reality, they are rolling and potentially look like the best team in the country. And with how wide open the rest of college football looks at the moment, this might be the team’s best chance at winning a national championship.

“This is as good of an opportunity that you’re going to have,” Balas said. “Considering what they’re going to lose next year. We know they lose Blake Corum.”

Before really focusing on the CFP, everyone is waiting for November to roll around. Michigan faces Penn State and Ohio State in the final three weeks of the season. That’s where McCarthy will have a real opportunity to show off his expanded role and how effective it has been.

He is just hoping the results are the same when the spotlight is on.