'Put a talented guy out there and see how it goes': Jim Harbaugh happy with QB progress from Joe Milton, Cade McNamara
One of the most difficult transitions in football is typically moving from a seasoned, veteran quarterback to a younger player at that position. For Michigan, the hurdle was a little higher this year, given all the unforeseen circumstances that came in March.
Michigan had a vacancy at quarterback after Shea Patterson graduated following the 2019 season. There was expected to be a competition between Joe Milton and Dylan McCaffrey for the starting job, but McCaffrey opted out of the 2020 campaign with the intention to transfer somewhere else.
That presumably put Milton at the No. 1 spot on the depth chart and pushed Cade McNamara into the No. 1 competitor spot for the starting job. And while it’s been a funky offseason and there’s still a month until the Wolverines hit the field against Minnesota, head coach Jim Harbaugh likes what he sees from both quarterbacks.
“Very talented. Both guys are really competitive, they want to play. And smart, too. That’s very exciting,” Harbaugh told Jon Jansen on the Inside Michigan Football radio show. “Put a talented guy out there and see how it goes. That’s what we’ve been watching in practice every day and it’s going really well.”
Both Milton and McNamara have limited experience on the field. Milton has thrown just 11 career passes, completing 6 for 117 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 47 yards and two touchdowns over the last two seasons. McNamara has not thrown a pass in a live game.
Still, Harbaugh says both guys have had no trouble jumping into a leadership role with the team.
“A lot of guys step up in a leadership capacity. Definitely Joe Milton has done that. Cade, a year younger, but he’s done that as well,” Harbaugh said. “Really love what we’re seeing.”
Michigan is going to need strong play at the QB position this year, given what the schedule looks like. Half of the Wolverines schedule is comprised of ranked opponents, playing Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State. For Michigan to have success, Milton or McNamara is going to have to learn on the fly.
The Wolverines are scheduled to open the season on Oct. 24 against Minnesota.