Reason Jim Harbaugh subbed JJ McCarthy in for Cade McNamara revealed
Michigan on Saturday blew a lead on the road at Michigan State and lost the game 37-33 for their first defeat of the season. Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh caught a lot of criticism after the game for his team blowing the lead. A good amount of the criticism was over Harbaugh shuffling quarterbacks and playing JJ McCarthy for Cade McNamara at times, including on one key fumble. But now we know what was going on during that play.
Michigan was leading 33-30 with over seven minutes left in the game and had the ball near midfield following a punt. McCarthy, who is the backup, was in the game to begin the possession for Michigan. He immediately lost a fumble on a read option type of play. The turnover was costly and gave the ball to the Spartans in Michigan territory. Michigan State ended up scoring the winning touchdown following the turnover.
“Two quarterbacks handle the football. It finally cost the Wolverines,” announcer Gus Johnson said.
“I was surprised McCarthy was on the field after he put it on the turf on the previous series. He fumbled last series, they got away with it,” analyst Joel Klatt said.
Michigan had rotated McCarthy in a few times during the second half. He was 3/4 for 23 yards and a touchdown pass. He also rushed three times for seven yards. But most people thought it was a bad idea to have him begin the possession instead of McNamara.
Harbaugh explained the reason after the game. Harbaugh said McNamara wasn’t able to play at the time, which is why McCarthy was in the game.
On J.J. McCarthy’s fumble, Jim Harbaugh said Cade McNamara was “working through something” on the sideline. McNamara said after the game that he was in some pain.
— Austin Meek (@byAustinMeek) October 30, 2021
The announcers/telecast missed that information, which was important context to the matter.
Had McNamara been available, he probably would have been in the game, and not McCarthy. That’s likely of little consolation for Michigan fans, who are bummed about blowing a 30-14 lead.
Photo: Aug 31, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh before the game against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports