Wolverines laud Cade McNamara's efficiency in season-opening victory

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

It wasn’t the glossiest season-opening performance in terms of statistics, but Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara did what was asked and efficiently directed a 47-14 victory while attempting only 11 passes.

McNamara was 9-of-11 against Western Michigan last Saturday for 136 yards and two touchdowns, while the Wolverines accumulated 335 yards rushing and three scores. His steady, mistake-free performance has McNamara rated No. 2 among quarterbacks in this week’s Pro Football Focus (PFF) rankings.

Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara throws a pass in the third quarter against Western Michigan.

Quarterback Taylor Powell of Troy leads the nation, according to PFF, with a 93.7 passer rating, while McNamara is second at 93.0. Kentucky’s Will Levis is third at 91.9.

“Manage the offense; I think that’s what Cade did a really good job of is just managing the offense, manage the calls, don’t try to do anything extraordinary,” Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis said Wednesday at a news conference.

“You don’t have to go outside your own realm of things to try to create things; let the plays come natural. But it always helps when you establish the run and they can get those quarterbacks comfortable where you don’t have to put too much pressure on them from a drop-back standpoint. I thought Cade did a good job there.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who continues to prepare his team to face Washington in a prime-time game on Saturday, praised McNamara after the game, calling him efficient and said he made the right decisions.

McNamara said he didn’t have an issue with the emphasis on the run game that limited his pass attempts.

“Whatever the game plan sees fit will determine our run-to-pass ratio,” McNamara said. “I thought the (play) calling was fine. It was perfect. We got the job done, and if we’re running the ball a little bit more, I don’t mind that. Makes my job a little easier.”

Freshman J.J. McCarthy relieved McNamara in the third quarter and was 4-of-6 for 80 yards and a touchdown. Dan Villari also got in the game late and kept the ball three times for 11 yards.

“Obviously, getting J.J. in there at the end was about getting him game reps. That was a key piece for us,” Gattis said. “We knew going into the game that we were gonna end up playing both, not because one guy got pulled, one guy didn’t play well, but we wanted to get J.J. game reps, kinda see what he could do.

“I wish Cade could have played the whole game or gotten more game reps, too, but that was our plan. It’s so critical for us to develop a second quarterback after going through our situation that we went through last year, kinda losing three quarterbacks, really, at one point. We’re very conscious of that, making sure we have great depth at that position and developing those guys.”

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @chengelis