Against UConn, Cade McNamara will step in as QB2, the defense will look for turnovers and Michigan will dominate before the half is over. Jenna Hickey/Daily. Buy this photo.

As expected, the No. 4 Michigan football team is rolling against a bottom-feeding non-conference schedule. We’ve learned pretty much all we can at this point about now-official starting quarterback J.J. McCarthy: He’s talented enough to thrash dreadful defenses like Colorado State, Hawaii and inevitably Uconn.

So while this game will almost-certainly be over by the end of the first quarter, some of you are going to stick around for the entire thing. For you sadists, here’s what to watch for against the Huskies:

It’s Cade McNamara time

What?! That’s not the quarterback I care about!

That may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that the senior is going to play some snaps in this game. Once you’re done salivating over McCarthy, it’s going to be McNamara’s turn under center. He is the QB2 after all, and once the game is well in hand, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is going to want to see his backup guy under center.

The question becomes, how does McNamara perform? 

The pressures of losing the starting job have been lifted, and there’s a chance McNamara can settle in and play like the safe, efficient, game-leading quarterback he was a year ago.

Before this season at least, McNamara thought he could be even better than before.

“I feel like the level of play I’m playing at is very high right now in terms of where I’ve been in my career,” McNamara said during fall camp. “I have gotten much better than I was this time last year or even at the end of the season last year. And I’ve recognized that and obviously, my teammates have as well.”

It will be interesting to see if McNamara can deliver on that confidence now that the weight has been lifted from his shoulders. An efficient McNamara waiting in the wings if something ever happens to McCarthy is a potent asset for the Wolverines, and it’s something Michigan fans should hope is available.


The final part of watching McNamara’s day will be watching the Wolverine-faithful’s reaction to his performance. Last game, boos rained down in a chorus any time McNamara wasn’t perfect. With the quarterback competition settled, will Michigan fans be more receptive to their once-ballyhooed QB1, or will they continue to paint him as the villain in McCarthy’s story?

Turnovers — the final frontier

Before the season started, the Wolverines’ defense made it a goal to generate more turnovers. After one game, Michigan looked to be on track — recovering a fumble that senior corner DJ Turner returned for a touchdown and hauling in an interception to boot.

But against Hawaii, despite suffocating the Rainbow Warriors’ offense, the Wolverines didn’t flip the field once.

The defensive backs think that starts with them.

“I think we need more picks, to be honest,” fifth-year corner Gemon Green said in August. “We need more turnovers as a whole, fumbles and picks. (But) I think we’re a lot faster than last year, so it’s going to be a big difference.”

That sentiment is echoed by the secondary’s shot-caller, co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale. Clinkscale loves that his guys are sticking to their man, getting their hands on the ball and making plays, but the mission doesn’t stop until that ball sticks in their hands.

“Do I like PBUs and contested balls? Yes,” Clinkscale said. “Do I love them? No, I love interceptions.”

And if practice is any indication, Clinkscale thinks the secondary is well on their way to converting a goal into reality.

“We are collecting more interceptions during practice,” Clinkscale said. “(If) we keep playing (like) that, see and prosper. We’ll reap what we sow; we’ll get more interceptions. So they’re comin’.”

Against Uconn, it’s time to find out if they can actually do it.

Of course, the turnover responsibility isn’t wholly on the defensive backs. To generate more interceptions, the secondary needs help from its pass rush to force the quarterback into making riskier or less-accurate throws. Look to see if the d-line can collapse the pocket and pressure the quarterback, and maybe even cause some turnovers of its own like it did in the Week One scoop-and-score.

A different game, or literally anything else (assuming nothing crazy happens)

Seriously, Saturday’s game is going to get ugly fast. It’s likely going to be a non-contest before half time, and there’s not going to be much to learn in the latter half that you haven’t already seen in the first two games.

So channel surf, monitor scores and figure out what other game is worth watching. Maybe a Big Ten game catches your eye, maybe there’s an exciting upset brewing down in South Carolina, or maybe you just want to catch up on House of the Dragon before Sunday’s episode drops — whatever it is, please watch it. 

The forecast looks nice for Saturday, too. Go outside, read a book, do some yard work, have some fun. Just do something else with your time rather than watching a late-game rout with the fourth-stringers in. Without a doubt, it will be a better use of your time.