Michigan Wolverines Football: Michigan QB Cade McNamara: Whatever The Run-To-Pass Ratio Is, 'We're 3-0'
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Michigan QB Cade McNamara: Whatever The Run-To-Pass Ratio Is, 'We're 3-0'

If Michigan football redshirt freshman starting quarterback Cade McNamara is approached with the Wolverines' run-to-pass ratio through three games — the lack of passing has some fans grumbling — he'll give a stat right back: 3-0.

That, of course, is the team's record after the non-conference portion of the schedule. It's also ultimately all that matters to the players and coaches in the building.

"As we’re studying other teams, as we’re preparing for other teams, we’re prepared to throw the ball and run the ball," McNamara explained of the game plan. "And depending on how the game goes and as we’re exposing some weaknesses in the defense, that can determine the ratio. And whatever the ratio is, we’re 3-0."

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Michigan Wolverines football Cade McNamara
Michigan Wolverines football quarterback Cade McNamara led the Maize and Blue from 17 points down to beat Rutgers last season. (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Michigan has run the ball on 75 percent of its offensive snaps for one simple reason: Opposing defenses haven't stopped it to this point. And as head coach Jim Harbaugh has said, the Wolverines aren't there to "stop themselves."

The Maize and Blue lead the nation with 350.3 rushing yards per game and 15 touchdowns on the ground, but they've been successful in the pass game when needed as well, with the squad's 176.6 passer rating slotting 13th in the country.

McNamara has completed 24 of his 37 pass attempts for 371 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

As the Wolverines enter Big Ten play beginning Saturday against Rutgers, McNamara offered that there is plenty room for improvement, starting with consistency. He's already seen big strides, including in last Saturday's 63-10 win over Northern Illinois in which they scored on their first nine drives and put up 606 yards of total offense.

"Last week, I think we proved we can be really consistent," McNamara said of the step in the right direction. "Our errors were the lowest I think it’s ever been, even in practice. Us continuing to play at that level is going to be huge for us."

McNamara said the top aspect of his own game that he's working to improve is better recognizing the adjustments made by defenses, a point of emphasis heading into league play.

Having head coach Jim Harbaugh, a former U-M and NFL signal-caller, to help guide him has been a plus, and the same goes for first-year quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss. McNamara credits both for aiding his growth.

"Especially with the amount of experience that he had at playing the quarterback position at such a high level, from any of the coaches I’ve ever met in my career, going to him with that with his experience and feeding to me, it’s something I really appreciate," McNamara said of Harbaugh.

"I think the two of them really feed off each other great, and I think the addition of Coach Weiss has been nothing but great for the room as well."

His job has been made much easier by the offensive line, which has not only helped allow for so much rushing success, but is giving him ample time to let the play develop and cleanly get off throws. Michigan's 68.0 PFF pass blocking grade ranks 36th in the nation, and the line has allowed just one sack.

"I don’t think I’ve ever had that much time to throw in my entire career," McNamara said. "In high school, I had more of an undersized line and had to do more with my feet. But last week, being able to sit back in the pocket and take multiple hitches to let the wide receivers get further down field and create more separation, it’s great having that offensive line in front of me.

"I’m not used to it at all, actually. I’m used to getting the ball out really fast, and I think that’s a big strength of my game — getting the ball out fast. When we’re doing the competitive periods during practice, me having to get the ball out really fast, with rushers like [redshirt freshman linebacker David] Ojabo and [junior defensive end] Aidan [Hutchinson], these guys getting after me, really keeps me in that motion, making the games almost easier."

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Michigan Football Receivers Stepping Up In Ronnie Bell's Absence

It's been more than two weeks since junior wideout Ronnie Bell suffered a season-ending knee injury, and the Wolverines have seen several guys step up in his absence. They're expecting more to step to the forefront as time goes on, too.

Sophomore Cornelius Johnson leads the club in with six receptions and 165 yards, 87 of which came on a deep ball from McNamara last week.

"We had a double move called," McNamara recounted. "I noticed that the corners actually switched sides from where they were originally aligned earlier in the game. I noticed that No. 12 on the right was press corner, and obviously we want to go for a tighter corner in that scenario. CJ ran a great route, and I was just able to sort of wait on him a little bit and let him get down field, and then I was able to complete that."

"It felt great. Third time’s a charm with CJ. I didn’t see the ball because I got hit, but hearing the crowd roar and everything, it was a sweet moment."

Redshirt junior Daylen Baldwin has nearly fully recovered from an ankle injury, and he made an impact against NIU, catching three passes for 23 yards. He had a 69-yard touchdown reception in the opener against Western Michigan as well.

Baldwin and second-year freshman Roman Wilson have gotten the bulk of the time at the outside spot opposite of Johnson.

"I think he’s recognized the opportunity, and he has a lot of experience.," McNamara said of Baldwin. "Also with a guy that’s filling in with that spot as well, is Roman Wilson. Even though Roman’s young, he played a ton as a true freshman, so he has experience as well.

"A combination of the whole room. As we get deeper into the season … whether it’s [sophomore] Mikey Sainristil, who is a great player and we haven’t even needed to use him yet ... Coming into this season, we knew we had a deep room there, and I think we have a lot of guys that can step up, whether they’re being used right now or can be used in the future."


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