Michigan football spring practice: J.J. McCarthy 'looks a lot better,' Amorion Walker is 'raw'

On3 imageby:Clayton Sayfie03/15/23

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Michigan Wolverines football is halfway through spring practices ahead of its April 1 spring game at The Big House. The team’s passing offense hit the ground running in the early going.

Especially with senior running back Blake Corum currently out while recovering from knee surgery, junior quarterback J.J. McCarthy is the leader of the offense.

Last year at this time, the 6-foot-3, 196-pounder was in a competition with Cade McNamara, who’s now at Iowa, and dealing with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Now, the only question mark about the quarterback spot is who will win the backup battle between top contenders Jack Tuttle, a graduate transfer from Indiana, and Davis Warren, a junior former walk-on.

McCarthy has improved, impressing his teammates.

“We definitely communicate more, and just watching him this spring, he looks a lot more comfortable, a lot more confident and is making a lot of big-time plays, big-time throws,” Michigan senior wide receiver Roman Wilson said. “He looks a lot better right now than he did last spring.”

This offseason will give McCarthy and his receivers ample opportunity to build chemistry and get timing down. The Wolverines were a bit erratic in the deep passing game last season, and McCarthy continued to stress that it would come in time, that repetitions were key.

He was right, with Michigan hitting on some long passes in crucial moments against Ohio State, Purdue in the Big Ten championship game and TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. Eleven of McCarthy’s 22 completions of 20-plus air yards came in the final three games of the season.

The Wolverines hope to take the next step in that area this fall.

“I’ve always been pretty comfortable with him as a passer, as a person, as a leader, everything,” Wilson said. “Over time, we just build better chemistry and understanding for a person, and both of what him and what other people are thinking at the same time. It’s a lot of chemistry type of thing over time.”

Michigan has a new quarterbacks coach Kirk Campbell, and Sherrone Moore is now the sole offensive coordinator along with his offensive line coach duties. Wilson said it’s too early to tell what the differences would be now that it’s Moore’s show, but he did shed some light on the assistant coach’s message to the Michigan offense when he was promoted.

“If we do the same things we did last year, we’ll be OK,” Wilson revealed of what Moore said.

Michigan’s offense leaned heavily on the run game last season. The Wolverines were fifth in the country with 238.9 rushing yards per game, with Corum racking up 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground.

Junior running back Donovan Edwards, who’s currently recovering from a right hand injury, also returns after starring late in the year after Corum went down. Edwards has stated his intentions to split carries with Corum this season, receiving more of a workload. If that happens, it’s likely the Wolverines will be run-heavy once again, after averaging only 32.7 pass attempts per game (78th in the country) last season.

Wilson wouldn’t have a problem with Corum and Edwards getting their fair share of carries.

“I think we’re just going to be more explosive,” Wilson said. “We have two guys who are very eager to touch the ball, and most of the time they touch the ball they take it for 90-yard runs. I think it’s going to be really good.

“Most of my goals this year are to help the team, so if that helps the team, then it is what it is. I love to see it.”

Roman Wilson on Amorion Walker position switch

Michigan sophomore Amorion Walker was with Wilson in the wide receiver room most of last season but has switched to cornerback this spring. Head coach Jim Harbaugh said in late-February that he already considered Walker a ‘starter’ at one of the corner spots, and he continues to progress.

Wilson said he’s still growing into the role but has high potential.

“I went up against him a couple times, and I watch a lot of his film when we’re all watching film,” the Michigan wideout said of Walker. “I think he looks really good. He’s really athletic.

“Right now, he’s really raw. He’s close to getting the technique down, and I think when he becomes a technician at corner, he’s going be one of the best. That’s just my opinion.”

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