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Michigan football: 3 bold predictions for JJ McCarthy in 2023

Michigan football and JJ McCarthy are in store for a huge year.



Michigan football, No. 1 quarterback in the nation
Sep 17, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) passes in the first half against the Connecticut Huskies at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

This fall, for the first time since the 2018-2019 seasons, Michigan football will have a second-year quarterback returning to lead the offense. After a strong performance in 2022, which included leading the Wolverines to a Big Ten title and a College Football Playoff berth during one of the most successful seasons in program history, JJ McCarthy is poised to take the next step in the Maize and Blue. He aims to guide his team to even greater accomplishments this fall.

3. JJ McCarthy breaks the Michigan football single-season passing touchdown record

Back in 2005, former Michigan football quarterback Chad Henne set the Wolverines’ program record for passing touchdowns in a single season. Currently, the number to beat for the Maize and Blue is 25 — a relatively low record and one that is very beatable for JJ McCarthy.

Despite not starting in Week 1 of the 2022 season, JJ McCarthy managed to throw for 22 touchdowns and five interceptions by the season’s end. The Wolverines have an incredibly run-heavy offense, as seen in 2021 and 2022, which still limits the junior quarterback’s opportunities to throw.

However, as witnessed in the latter stages of last season, JJ McCarthy can sling it around when asked to. As a sophomore and first-year starter, he led the Maize and Blue to a massive 22-point win over Ohio State in Columbus, a victory largely attributed to McCarthy’s stellar performance. He also performed well in the Big Ten title game and the Fiesta Bowl, with the exception of two major mistakes.

In 2023, with the potential for a more pass-happy system, the Michigan football single-season passing touchdown record is in jeopardy with JJ McCarthy at the helm.

2. Development leads to a lot more passing

As previously mentioned, Michigan football heavily relied on their running game last year, resulting in fans only catching glimpses of JJ McCarthy’s full potential as a starting quarterback. Despite their dominant victories over teams like Penn State and Ohio State, they narrowly missed out on a win against TCU.

The importance of having multiple strategies to secure victories in College Football Playoff contention has become evident. The Maize and Blue seem to have recognized this and are now aiming to diversify their offense.

With JJ McCarthy entering his junior season and having gained valuable experience as a starter, I anticipate him receiving more opportunities as a true passer this fall. McCarthy showcased his arm talent in 2022, and it seems he is poised to establish himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten, if not the entire nation, in 2023.

1. A diverse receiver corps

Many devoted Michigan football fans are aware that JJ McCarthy will be without his favorite wide receiver, Ronnie Bell, as they enter the upcoming season. Furthermore, the team will also be without two of their top tight ends, Luke Schoonmaker and Erick All, resulting in fewer familiar targets for McCarthy to throw to.

In 2023, the receiving options for McCarthy may vary, ranging from the running back duo of Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum, to wide receivers like Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson, as well as tight ends Colston Loveland and AJ Barner.

With a combination of new faces and a plethora of solid options, I anticipate McCarthy spreading the ball around to various players on the offense. This could provide opportunities for new transfers and freshmen to make an impact, while established receivers like Roman Wilson, who performed well last season, continue to contribute to the passing game.

Michigan football may be without a true top target in 2023 if JJ McCarthy chooses to spread the love and target anyone and everyone on the field.

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CJ has covered college athletics in paid roles for around five years, including numerous sports and beats. His most recent work revolves largely around Penn State and Michigan football and basketball as a member of the credentialed media at both schools. Right now, CJ writes for Blue by Ninety, where he also serves as the site's credentialed football reporter. He also does some credentialed basketball coverage. Previously, CJ has made stops with sites like GBMWolverine, Saturday Blitz, Steeler Nation, and more.