Alabama Football: Michigan’s hopes rest on the arm of JJ McCarthy


There is no clear consensus about the four CFB Playoff quarterbacks. At least not in how they should be ranked. Alabama football fans can argue Jalen Milroe is overall the best of the four. Washington fans will strongly disagree. Most Texas and Michigan fans will likely pick their guy as the best.

What can be fairly claimed is that Michigan must have a strong game from J.J. McCarthy, to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Wolverines live off a strong defensive team and a strong rushing attack. The problem for Michigan is that the Alabama Football defense has experienced a renewal during the 2023 season. The season did not start that way. In game three against South Florida, the Bulls’ quarterback and top running back rushed for over a 4-yard carry average against the Crimson Tide.

Most of Alabama’s problems in that nightmare game came from the Tide offense. But the Crimson Tide defense looked porous against what should have been an outmatched USF offense.

Alabama Football Defensive Renewal

The Alabama Football defense improved more rapidly than did the Crimson Tide offense. Against Texas A&M, Arkansas and Tennessee, the Tide’s run defense was superb. The Aggies averaged just 1.9 yards; Arkansas averaged 2.8 yards. The Tennessee Vols boasted one of the SEC’s top rushing attacks. When the Vols came to Tuscaloosa, Jaylin Wright was averaging over seven yards per carry. After the Third Saturday in October, Wright rushed for over eight yards per carry in four November games. Against the Bama defense, Wright’s carry average was two yards. In the same game, Alabama held Jabari Small to a 3-yard average.

Michigan has a 1,000-yard running back in Blake Corum. He is Michigan’s most important offensive weapon. As good as Corum is, the SEC had 21 running backs average more yards per carry than Corum. The two Tennessee running backs discussed above were not the only ones stuffed by the Tide defense. Two more of the SEC’s other 19, ‘better than Corum’ backs are Georgia’s Kendall Milton and Kentucky’s Ray Davis. Alabama held Milton to 3.2 yards and Davis to 2.2 yards.

Michigan cannot depend on Blake Corum unless J.J. McCarthy has a great game. McCarthy is capable of big games. On the season, his passing accuracy has been 74.2%. But in the last third of the season, Michigan’s pass protection has been leaky. Against a not-outstanding Maryland team, McCarthy completed just over half of his passes.

McCarthy has a couple of solid tight ends that can challenge Alabama. Otherwise, the outstanding Alabama secondary will make his passing windows small. In the face of frequent pass-rushing pressure, McCarthy may not have enough magic to keep the Wolverines in the game.

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