Texas A&M football: Aggies have a quarterback they can rely on in Johnson
He isn’t the flashiest quarterback in the SEC. He may not have the strongest arm in the conference. Most who watch him play would agree he’d make a serviceable backup.
But Max Johnson is proving to be more than simply a clipboard holder for Texas A&M. He won games at LSU, and he even beat the Aggies with a last-second touchdown pass in the 2021 season finale.
Now, he’s winning football games for Texas A&M. On Saturday, against Arkansas in the Southwest Classic at Jerry World, he notched the latest triumph on his belt, a thrilling 23-21 victory over the No. 10 Razorbacks.
And he did it using his accurate arm as well as his feet. He took what the Arkansas defense was giving him, didn’t bite off any more than he could chew and directed Texas A&M in the proper direction for a big victory, albeit a nail-biter.
On one play, it might be running room; the next, it could be an open receiver. But regardless of the circumstance, down and distance, Johnson made the right decision. The execution may not have been as crisp as some other polished QBs, but what he lacks in physical ability, Johnson makes up for with an acute knowledge of the game.
He isn’t afraid to stand tall in the pocket, yet he has that football sense of knowing when to tuck it and run.
He’s the son of quarterback Brad Johnson, who spent 17 seasons in the NFL. Max has been around the game a long time, and at the highest level. He has studied the game with a first-hand look. In short, he knows what he’s doing with the football. He knows how to take care of it.
In 3 games this season, Johnson has thrown 45 passes with 0 interceptions. He’s not going to wow you with stats, but he protects the football. He has completed just 53 percent (24-for-45) of his passes this season, with 2 touchdowns.
But these are the things that perhaps get overlooked when grading the Aggies’ QB: Against Arkansas on Saturday, Johnson scrambled for 11 and 33 yards (net 18 after a holding penalty) on 3rd-and-long plays to put the Aggies in position to be successful.
In addition, he completed passes of 26, 32 and 16 yards and 2 for 18 yards, converting twice on 3rd downs to keep drives alive. No, he’s not much of a deep threat, but he’s pretty good at moving the chains, and that fits perfectly with head coach Jimbo Fisher’s philosophy on offense.
Johnson could be described as the consummate game manager. He’s not the most talented quarterback around, but he is dependable. And that’s what Fisher is looking for right now in a starting quarterback.
What does that mean for the Aggies moving forward? Well, we’ll just have to tune in and see. But you can’t overlook the fact that in 2 starts at Texas A&M, Johnson has beaten No. 13 Miami and No. 10 Arkansas.
Not too shabby, especially for a team looking for a leader after falling at home to Appalachian State. It seems to have found that spark in the LSU transfer.
Now Johnson and the Aggies must take their show on the road. Three straight true road games await them. The neutral site victory on Saturday was just a taste. They’ll have to be every bit as resilient over the next several weeks in hostile environments.
Texas A&M visits Mississippi State and Alabama before a bye week, then it’s back on the road to South Carolina. That’s a string of games that would test even the best of signal-callers. It’s a stretch of games in which the Aggies must play error-free and without trepidation.
They’ll need a veteran quarterback who has been through it before. They’ll need a quarterback who doesn’t get rattled, who’ll make good choices in tough situations.
By all indications, they have that in Max Johnson.