Jim Harbaugh announced before the first game that the two would battle for the starting spot with McNamara starting the first game of the season and McCarthy starting the second. McNamara was the starter last season, helping Michigan to a 12-2 record, its first Big Ten title under Harbaugh and a berth in the College Football Playoff.
“I would definitely say it’s pretty unusual,” McNamara said. “It was kind of something I didn’t expect by the end of camp. I thought I had my best camp. I thought I put myself in a good position and that was just the decision that coach went with.”
McNamara finished the first game completing nine of 18 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown with 61 of those yards coming on a touchdown pass to. Roman Wilson. Harbaugh acknowledged there were some dropped passes, but when asked about his assessment of McNamara’s performance, he was complimentary.
“I thought he was really good,” Harbaugh said. “He had some balls that were dropped. Pretty good execution, like I said, no problems. You have to give credit to the quarterbacks when that happens on offense too. Moving the football, scoring points and I thought he really had a good game.”
McNamara said Harbaugh doesn’t want to rotate both quarterbacks during the season like we saw some of last season. The quarterbacks expect the starter to take the majority of the snaps, but as the battle continues, McCarthy and McNamara will continue to split duties.
“I was confident in the way I performed over camp,” McNamara said. “It definitely felt that way. However, it’s just not my decision. So, whatever it is, whatever my role is, I’m honored that my teammates recognize me for the role that I have right now and that’s about it. “
McCarthy got time in the second half against Colorado State, completing four of four passes for 30 yards and running for 50 yards and a touchdown. Harbaugh said that was part of the plan to get McCarthy snaps and thought it was a good time to get him into the game when the Wolverines held a comfortable lead to give him more opportunities to evaluate the quarterbacks.
“(McCarthy) was electric when he came in, no question about it,” Harbaugh said. “Thought he came through his reads really well too and it was great to see him just play really super calm, cool and collected. I don’t think it was for nothing but he’s also doing a great job and has really improved. a lot as you’d expect to go from your freshman year to your sophomore year.”
McCarthy will now get his chance to start the game against Hawaii at home and prove his case for the starting spot. McNamara is also likely to get snaps if the result is similar to the first game, but the final decision will be in both of their hands.
“It’s good. This is something I’ve dealt with whatever part it’s been in my career,” McNamara said. “Whether it was before I played with Joe (Milton), whether it finally came in, whether it was last season and now it’s this season. I think at this point, I have a cry for how to deal with these things.”