J.J. McCarthy discusses injury status, Iowa matchup and Cade McNamara/Erick All reunion

On3 imageby:Anthony Broome11/27/23

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The Michigan Wolverines will play for Big Ten Championship No. 3 this weekend when taking on the Iowa Hawkeyes in Indianapolis. It will be the third trip for junior quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who played a role in the 2021 season before emerging as the starter last year.

Saturday is another big game for the Wolverines that they earned the right to play in after taking down the Ohio State Buckeyes for a third consecutive season. In weeks like the one that preceded The Game, McCarthy insulates himself in order to stay focused on the task at hand.

“I just delete all my social media,” McCarthy said Monday on the Big Ten teleconference. I try to stay off it as much as possible because, whatever you consume, visually,  it does have an effect on you, whether you know it or not, or whether you allow it to or not. So I just try to completely cut out all the noise and just focus on what’s in front of me and stay present with my teammates.”

McCarthy has fought through a leg injury over the last few weeks that has gotten better with time, and told the media on Monday that he believes he is as close to 100% as he has been of late.

“My lower leg injury is almost perfectly healed,” McCarthy said. “I mean it was a rough couple of weeks, but the athletic training staff did a tremendous job. I attacked treatment every single day. So it’s doing good.”

The task at hand for McCarthy and the Michigan offense is facing off against an Iowa defense that has carried the load during its Big Ten West title-winning season. Head coach Kirk Ferentz runs a program that pounces on mistakes, especially defensively. The U-M signal-caller knows that he needs to lead a clean offense on Saturday night.

“Coach Ferentz does a great job of making sure that they’re well coached and in the right spots at all times. I feel like that’s something about the Iowa defense that makes them so good all the time is their discipline and their techniques and their coverages and everything about it.

“They don’t do a lot, but they do it really, really well. And obviously, they have some athletes back there that can make plays and get to the ball and disrupt the ball in the air. So I’d say the biggest thing is just their discipline with the rules and just not getting out of what they do and not allowing busting coverage or rushing lanes to open up for me to scramble. They’re just very fundamentally sound.”

The Michigan/Iowa Big Ten title matchup was one that many predicted to start the year, and came with a built-in subplot of two former Wolverine quarterbacks potentially duking it out. That will not happen anymore after Cade McNamara‘s torn ACL earlier this fall. Former Michigan tight end Erick All also tore his ACL and will not suit up on Saturday.

McCarthy shares a bond with both of those guys, and each were instrumental in winning the first Big Ten title that kicked off this run for Michigan.

“I was [looking forward to it] just be able to see him again,” McCarthy said. “It’s just amazing to see how both of our journeys turned out and it was obviously at the forefront of our mind at the beginning of the season to have that chance to play Cade and Erick again. Just to be able to see the guys at the game, two great guys, it will just be awesome to be on the same field with them again. It’s pretty cool, even though they’re not playing, it would be great to see them.”

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