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Should JJ McCarthy be in the 2023 Heisman discussion?

JJ McCarthy had a solid sophomore season in 2022. Heading into 2023, could he be a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate?



Oct 15, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) gets set to run a play in the first half in the first half against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

As we head into the 2023 Michigan football season, the Wolverines are looking stacked on both sides of the football. On offense, Michigan is in the best spot that we have seen in a long time — U-M is loaded across the board, from running back to wide out to offensive line. Under center will be rising junior JJ McCarthy, who grew into one of Michigan’s best passers in a long time down the stretch in 2022.

Should Michigan’s rising junior quarterback be in the 2023 Heisman discussion? Let’s break it down.

JJ McCarthy’s odds for Heisman

According to Caesers Sportsbook, JJ McCarthy currently has +4000 odds (40/1) to win the Heisman Trophy in 2023. McCarthy is coming off of a solid season as Michigan’s starter in 2022; however, it was nothing all that special. Still, in all of Michigan’s most recent games (Ohio State, Purdue, and TCU) McCarthy proved to be a proficient passer.

As a former 5-star recruit, McCarthy clearly has the arm strength and talent to become a Heisman-caliber player. McCarthy’s first touchdown as a Wolverines came in Week 1 of the 2021 season — McCarthy threw his wide out open across the field in one of the most impressive touchdown throws that Michigan fans have ever seen.

2022 was just the beginning?

In 2022, McCarthy completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,719 yards, 22 touchdowns, and five interceptions. McCarthy ended the year with a 79.1 QBR and a 155.0 passer rating — not too bad for a first-year starting sophomore QB. Additionally, McCarthy led the Wolverines to a 13-1 season, which included blowout wins over Michigan State, Penn State, Ohio State, and Purdue in the Big Ten Championship game.

In Michigan’s biggest game of the year — its 45-23 win over Ohio State — McCarthy seemingly carried the Wolverines to a huge victory via his 263 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown.

Can McCarthy win the Heisman?

Can JJ McCarthy win the 2023 Heisman Trophy? The short answer is yes — he has the talent and weapons to do so. That being said, the Wolverines’ run-first scheme largely limits what McCarthy is able to do; at least that was the case in 2022. Seeing as Michigan football returns the nation’s top RB duo — Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum — I suspect that U-M will stick with its elite ground game.

Still, if McCarthy’s arm can prove to be more consistent throughout the year than he was in 2022, I think Sherrone Moore and Jim Harbaugh open up Michigan’s playbook. The Heisman Trophy might be a bit too much to ask for from McCarthy, but there are still many very realistic goals on the table. The Wolverines’ single-season passing touchdown record is 25 — a very breakable number. Additionally, Michigan’s single-season passing yards record is 3,331 — another breakable number.

On top of that, Michigan football could be gearing up for a third-straight win over Ohio State, Big Ten Championship, and perhaps even more ambitious goals such as a National Championship berth.

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