Michigan football vs Alabama: Matchups and Misconceptions in the Rose Bowl

Digging into some of the matchups and misconceptions for Michigan football vs. Alabama in the Rose Bowl.
Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh waves at fans after the Wolverines' 26-0 win over Iowa in the
Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh waves at fans after the Wolverines' 26-0 win over Iowa in the / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK
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JJ Isn't an Elite Quarterback

A lot of people are looking at the last few games as a way of demeaning the talent of JJ McCarthy. Over this time, his stats did drop off pretty significantly, however, anyone using this argument clearly hasn't watched Michigan football over the course of the season.

To begin with, JJ made very few poor plays in any of the past four games. In fact, he had a lot of pretty incredible throws into tight coverage. During this time he a pretty severe ankle injury which basically took away his ability to both run and step into his throws. The lack of threat he posed as a runner allowed defenses to adapt coverage to better slow down Michigan's rushing attack while still being sound in pass coverage. He will be fully healthy in this game and keep Alabama from playing Michigan the same way Ohio State or Iowa did.

Additionally, he played three really good defenses during that stretch. Iowa, Penn State, and Ohio State all rank in the top five nationally. I'll address the concerns of how good the Big 10 defenses are in a moment, but all three of these defenses were tough tests for anyone in the country. They all took away parts of Michigan's offense and forced the Wolverines to adapt, which they did. Ohio State for example played almost exclusively cover 4- a coverage that makes it nearly impossible to throw the ball deep. As a result JJ never forced the ball downfield. Instead, he took underneath throws and Michigan moved the ball consistently. The stats didn't look as good, but it wasn't a product of poor execution, rather, simply what the defense was willing to give up.