2019 Season Countdown: #26 Dylan McCaffrey

2019 Season Countdown: #26 Dylan McCaffrey


August 6, 2019
Dylan McCaffrey (image via Maize ‘n’ Brew)

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Name: Dylan McCaffrey
Height:
6’5″
Weight:
220 lbs.
High school:
Castle Rock (CO) Valor Christian
Position:
Quarterback
Class:
Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number:
#10
Last year:
I ranked McCaffrey #61 and said he would be a backup quarterback (LINK). He was 8/15 for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with running 10 times for 99 yards and 1 touchdown.
TTB Rating:
91

McCaffrey had a bit of a battle on his hands going into the 2018 season, with an older Brandon Peters and a decent freshman in Joe Milton trying to grab the #2 quarterback spot. Only a select few know exactly how close that battle was, but McCaffrey came out the victor and forced Peters to transfer to Illinois this off-season. Michigan fans didn’t have to wait long for the redshirt freshman to debut; he made 6 pass attempts and 3 rush attempts in the season opener against Notre Dame. McCaffrey showed flashes of good play, none more scintillating than a late 44-yard touchdown run against Wisconsin.

That’s a 6’5″, 220 lb. quarterback outrunning a 6’0″, 190 lb. safety and linebacker T.J. Edwards for a long touchdown.

Hit the jump for more.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t outrun a broken collarbone, which made him miss the second half of the season.

McCaffrey appears to be that next-generation QB that has the ability to throw and the wheels to make some big plays in the run game. He’s not Kyler Murray when it comes to speed, but perhaps a taller Russell Wilson as a runner. The bigger question is whether he can sit in the pocket and pick apart a defense.

Shea Patterson is entrenched as the starter for the Wolverines, but Jim Harbaugh said at Big Ten Media Days that the two quarterbacks could “redefine” what a starter is in football. He implied that the two could rotate or be on the field at the same time. Was he being deceitful? Playful? A crazy person? Truthful?

I would be surprised if Patterson and McCaffrey end up in a dual-starter role, because those things never seem to work. I do expect to see both of them play, and I think McCaffrey will play more than most #2 quarterbacks. He’s too talented to sit on the bench for a third consecutive season, especially when the starter will be graduating and leaving the door wide open for McCaffrey to get the gig.

Prediction: Backup quarterback; 24/40, 400 yards, 5 touchdowns

12 comments

  1. DonAZ
    Comments: 453
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Aug 06, 2019 at 6:49 AM

    Has McCaffrey learned that stepping out of bounds is the right thing to do, rather than lowering his shoulder and trying to pop a defender? His broken collar bone was due to him trying to be a stud RB rather than a valuable QB. Otherwise, I like what McCaffrey brings to the table. I’m hoping we see more of him in 2019.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 4968
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 06, 2019 at 9:52 AM

    Harbaugh exaggerates the competition at QB every year. I expect a totally conventional QB situation. A senior starter, junior backup, 3rd string sophomore and freshman who redshirts. As typical as it gets. Ahhhh. I’m going to intentionally ignore the manufactured drama and just appreciate it.

    The coaches showed a dash of creativity putting in Milton early against Wisconsin but that was mostly a gimmick. If I’m an opposing DC and I see McCaffrey in the game in the first half I’m telling my back 7 to cheat against a run. (Ditto for Milton even though he’s less of a runner.)

    My guess is the bulk of McCaffrey’s work will be when Patterson gets dinged. I’m told that KIDS THESE DAYS don’t like waiting and THINGS HAVE CHANGED but I see a good player willing to wait behind an NFL-caliber QB to get his shot to start in his senior year. Maybe that’s retro, or maybe the kind of perspective and privilege that comes with coming from a wealthy NFL family.

    McCaffrey had a good sophomore year and is on a very good track but I think he’s a bit overrated right now. Beating out Peters is less impressive if, well, if Peters isn’t a very good QB. Need to see McCaffrey thrive as a passer before I’m ready to anoint him as the next Drew Henson or whatever. 10 rushes to 15 passes is almost Denardian. The question about McCaffrey was always about his arm strength. Will be nice to see him dispel that concern…in 2020. This season is about Patterson.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 4
    Joined: 4/11/2017
    Shiban
    Aug 06, 2019 at 10:04 AM

    Isn’t McCaffrey just a redshirt sophomore right now? He would have two years to potentially start after this season. So he isn’t waiting around just for his one year of starting as a senior.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 4968
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 06, 2019 at 11:15 AM

      I didn’t imply otherwise but you’re not talking about the upcoming season, or the season after that, but the one after that. A lot can happen. I doubt very much 2021 is at the forefront of McCaffrey’s mind.

      But if that’s the topic of conversation: A very small percentage of players stick around for 5 years. That percentage will probably increase with liberalized red-shirt eligibility but it’s not common, particularly at big schools like Michigan.

      Even if it plays out neatly over the next 2 seasons like most people seem to think (McCaffrey is a good starter in 2020 is my expectation too) he will be free to pursue whatever opportunity he wants: NFL, Michigan, or grad transfer, with many other options on the table.

      I have no clue what 3 years out looks like – I don’t even feel very sure about what 3 months out looks like. In the current reality McCaffrey – a promising junior – is expected to be a backup this season. So that’s why I say he is waiting.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 1363
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Aug 06, 2019 at 10:24 AM

    “Was he being deceitful? Playful? A crazy person?”

    YES!

  5. Avatar
    Comments: 1143
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Aug 06, 2019 at 5:39 PM

    Unless McCaffrey somehow takes over as the starter, I would be quite surprised if he put up numbers like that. Michigan just doesn’t use their backup quarterbacks that way. When Patterson comes out, Harbaugh will completely take his foot off the gas on offense, always, and anyone who takes over will spend most of their snaps handing off to backup running backs, except on third and fairly long. There will be very few opportunities for backup QBs to put up passing numbers.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 4968
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 06, 2019 at 6:53 PM

      Top backup has averaged 46 pass attempts in the Harbaugh era. FWIW.

      This is probably a conservative estimate given injury potential, likelihood that Gattis will ramp up tempo and attempts a bit, and McCaffrey being probably/hopefully a better backup than typical

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1143
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Aug 06, 2019 at 8:45 PM

        It’s not worth much, since it’s more like an average of 25 in the three years when backups didn’t end up playing significantly as starters or otherwise in prime time, due to injuries.

        And it doesn’t really matter how good a backup he is, or whether Gattis is ramping up tempo. As noted quite clearly, when the backup comes in, Harbaugh takes his foot off the gas and plays 90% run. The only chance McCaffrey has to direct a full-blown offense this year is if Patterson gets hurt or starts to suck and gets benched.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 4968
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 07, 2019 at 12:13 PM

          Injuries are impossible to predict, but I would guess that starting QBs miss more than 1 game on average.

          In other words the health Michigan experienced in 2015, 2016, and 2018 can’t be counted on.

          2017 was a mess but it’s not like that’s some crazy situation that never happened before – especially for teams that tend to run their QB and have him sit in long-developing pass plays. If you play faster tempo (more snaps) the risk goes up.

          A default expectation that McCaffrey will have to play meaningful downs (not just games already decided) is more reasonable than the opposite. Even with a better OL.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1143
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Aug 07, 2019 at 7:39 PM

            Hence my qualification that McCaffrey will get more meaningful snaps IF Patterson gets hurt. But I’m not sure why you consider something that has happened only once out of four years under Harbaugh to be the “default”, especially when that happened with a train wreck of an Oline, which we no longer have.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 4968
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Aug 07, 2019 at 8:21 PM

              You’re suggesting we look at 3 of 4 years when I gave you 4 of 4. You’re not usually one for blind optimism.

              The 4 years are more representative. We’ve had 5 injured starters in the last 7 years and in their place have stepped in Peters, O’Korn, Speight, Morris, Gardner/Bellomy.

              I’m responding to the statement: “There will be very few opportunities for backup QBs to put up passing numbers.” I don’t think we can ignore injuries when talking about the relevance of a backup.

              FWIW I agree with the following:
              IF Patterson gets doesn’t get hurt and starts every game this year, then McCaffrey might struggle to see 40 pass attempts.

              • Avatar
                Comments: 1143
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                WindyCityBlue
                Aug 08, 2019 at 6:32 AM

                When I said “backup QBs” I was referring to guys who come in to play QB after the game is considered in the bag and the starter has been pulled. That should have been obvious from the context:

                “When Patterson comes out, Harbaugh will completely take his foot off the gas on offense, always, and anyone who takes over will spend most of their snaps handing off to backup running backs, except on third and fairly long. There will be very few opportunities for backup QBs to put up passing numbers.”

                And why is it “blind optimism” to predict that our QB will be much better protected behind this year’s Oline than in 2017? Or that Patterson is much better at running out of trouble than any guy we had at QB that year?

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