What J.J. McCarthy said after learning Michigan football will play TCU in the CFP

USA TODAY Sports Media Group
USA TODAY Sports Media Group

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Last year, the goal for Michigan football wasn’t to win the national championship, it turns out. This year, it absolutely is.

In his first year as the starting quarterback for the Wolverines, J.J. McCarthy hadn’t necessarily put the team on his back until the biggest games, as his career has been a progression. Same can be said of this team, as McCarthy notes that last year’s goal was to beat Ohio State — this year, the team wants more.

After learning that Michigan will play TCU in the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl with a chance to play either Georgia or Ohio State (again) in the national championship game, McCarthy had a number of reactions. Here is everything he said to the media following the playoff seeding reveal.

On the Big Ten not being the end goal?

I mean, it was one of the goals that we checked off. So it was obviously great. But at the end of the day, we still have one more goal to check off. And we’re focused on that, and obviously getting another chance. So hopefully, another opportunity to play Georgia will be amazing, because we’ve been champing at the bit to get that all year.

How much does he pay attention to other QBs around the country?

Yeah, I always look at other quarterbacks, just see if I can take nits and pieces from their game and add it to mine. And Max, he’s a tough dude. I mean, seen him run the ball, especially on those last couple of drives. It was really kind of standing out and realizing like, hey — I mean, it’s the Big 12, but there’ll be opportunity for me to kind of use my legs and do what he’s doing.

Why does this team have a chip on its shoulder?

Um, I would say just like the University of Michigan, everyone kind of always doubts us and everyone kind of takes us as the underdog. So just having that chip on our shoulder, it’s been a great use of fuel for us all year. And I feel like that 13-0 is just an illusion to us because at the end of the day 13-0, doesn’t matter unless we win it all.

Playing better when the lights get brighter

I just feel like I try to stay as neutral and as even-keeled as possible and that kind of shows out in big games because it’s very emotional. And just being able to stay present, stay in the moment has been huge for me and pays off.

Was there a moment when he realized this team would be this good?

I would just say week by week, no matter what challenge was thrown at us, we were able to capitalize on it and honestly just use it as fuel. And I feel like these past two games has done a lot for our confidence and realizing that we really can win it all and we’re a great football team.

Staying on the field watching Georgia celebrate last year

The memory bank was kind of in the feeling and I can still feel that feeling even today. It was just something where I wanted to soak up all that emotion that I was feeling and then just kind of use it to drive me through the offseason and moments like these coming up.

How was he feeling in that moment?

It was more just it was that feeling of regret and feeling that there was something I could have done more. Was there more work I could have put in? And in the offseason, just making sure I don’t have that feeling of regret going into this game and the following game.

Having a long layoff

Yeah, that’s the thing about Michigan that a lot of people take for granted is that it’s one of the toughest schools in the country. And for us to be able to play on the stage that we do and also have to perform in the classroom, it honestly builds our character up and kind of makes us stronger internally.

When he was being recruited, what was Michigan painted as?

It’s just so much opportunity, everything that was happening in 2020. I talked about it a little bit ago, how a lot of things in life are like a pendulum, where things are going bad, but it’s only going to swing to the positive and just being able to see that and know the group of guys that are coming in with me. I just knew something special was gonna come, but I didn’t really know what it was, but it’s definitely special.

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