Confident in his backups, J.J. McCarthy plans to use legs more in 2023

 For the first time in his Michigan football career, J.J. McCarthy is the man.

He enters fall camp as the starting quarterback with no competition. But, if the Wolverines need to count on a backup, is there any that are standing out?

Michigan has several options. Davis Warren feels like a steal as a former walk-on. Jack Tuttle transferred in from Indiana.

Alex Orji is built like a linebacker and has a strong arm. Jayden Denegal is a little unknown and Kendrick Bell — well, don’t count out Ronnie Bell’s younger brother.

As far as McCarthy sees it, they’re all still in a battle, with a leader behind him yet to emerge. But he’s sure that one will by the end of camp.

“It’s really all of them. They’re all battling out right now,” McCarthy said. “Coach Harbaugh gave a great analogy.

He was like it’s the Tour de France. Everyone starts off downhill.

 And they’re going and everyone’s kind of in this big clutter. And now we’re about to hit the uphill slope. So we’ll see some guys separate.”

McCarthy says he went back this offseason and really delved into the tale of the tape to figure out where he could get better from last year.

 One thing that stood out to him: he needs to run more than he did last year.

He shared his thoughts on that and more of what he needs to improve on this year if he’s really going to take that next step.

“A lot — like a lot of hours I put in and just reevaluated myself and analyzing some of the games and some of the gameplay that I’ve put out there,”

 McCarthy said. “And most of it’s just been decision making, playing faster, on time, more in rhythm, knowing when to run.

And just being more meshed with the receivers and the chemistry and knowing like, ‘OK, this guy’s a little bit faster than this guy.

So we got to put a little bit less on ball,’ little stuff like that. But yeah, it’s just a lot of reevaluating the little stuff and getting back to playing on time and in rhythm.”

The corollary to using his legs more is the potential increased risk of injury.

Of course, much of Michigan’s success this year hinges on McCarthy stepping his game up ,

and leading the team past its rivals and getting further and deeper into the College Football Playoff.


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