Michigan football’s Jim Harbaugh on QB competition: Put a guy out there, see how it goes

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Jim Harbaugh has come up with plenty of mantras during his coaching tenure with Michigan football.

And he has a new one to describe the Wolverines’ quarterback competition.

“Put a talented guy out there and see how it goes,” Harbaugh said.

During Monday night’s appearance on the “Inside the Wolverines” radio show with Jon Jansen, Harbaugh complimented the team’s top two quarterbacks, Joe Milton and Cade McNamara, who remain embroiled in a battle for the starting job.

The Wolverines recently lost Dylan McCaffrey, the presumed favorite entering this offseason, to an opt-out (McCaffrey reportedly plans to transfer).

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh talks with quarterback Joe Milton and offensive line coach Ed Warinner during the second half against Ohio State, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

With the season opener less than one month away, Harbaugh appears content to let the competition play out. Over the past couple years, he has not publicly named a starter until roughly one week before the season. He named Shea Patterson the starter last season on Aug. 26, and Patterson was named the starter in 2018 on Aug. 20.

“I think one of the big things, very talented,” Harbaugh said. “Both guys (are) really competitive and they want to play. And smart, too. That’s very exciting.”

A redshirt sophomore with the most experience of any quarterback on the roster, Milton now appears to be the favorite to take over for Patterson. The former four-star prospect has appeared in seven games over two seasons and has completed 6 of 11 passes for 117 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, with 12 rushes for 47 yards and two touchdowns.

McNamara, a four-star recruit who signed with Michigan in 2019, redshirted last season and played on the scout team.

Both quarterbacks recently received praise from offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, who described Milton as “exceptional” and also said McNamara was matching Milton, throw for throw.

Harbaugh appears to feel the same way.

“Put a talented guy out there and see how it goes,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what we’ve been watching in practice every day and it’s going really well. The leadership — been a lot of guys (to) step up in a leadership capacity. Definitely Joe Milton has done that. And Cade, a year younger, but he’s doing that as well. Really love what we’re seeing.”


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