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The Michigan football team’s quarterback competition will officially extend into the season. 

Senior Cade McNamara will start next Saturday’s season-opener against Colorado State, while sophomore J.J. McCarthy will draw the start in Week 2 against Hawaii, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh announced Saturday evening. After that, Harbaugh said, a decision will be made as to who is the starter and who is the backup. 

“We have made a decision,” Harbaugh said in the In the Trenches podcast. “Both quarterbacks have played great – done everything they could have and, in every way, to win the starting job. Coming out of camp, I just feel like we have two quarterbacks, Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy, that we feel very confident that we can win a championship with either of those two behind center. 

“It’s a great thing for our team but there’s only one ball and only one quarterback can be out there at a time. So we’re not ready to say who that starting quarterback is, but the decision that we have made is Cade McNamara will start the opener against Colorado State and J.J. McCarthy will start the second ball game against Hawaii, and then after week two we will make a decision going into week three on the starter and backup.”

Throughout fall camp, players and coaches have repeatedly insisted that the competition is neck-and-neck. Harbaugh’s announcement validates that.

McNamara, the incumbent, steered Michigan to its best season in decades last year, winning a Big Ten Championship and securing the Wolverines’ first ever berth in the College Football Playoff. He was also appointed one of five team captains on Thursday.

Yet McCarthy — who entered the program as an uber-talented freshman and played in certain packages last season — has kept McNamara’s job security tenuous. Though he was slowed by a shoulder injury in the offseason, he has returned in fall camp and evidently done enough to merit a prolonged quarterback competition, one that extends into the season.