As expected by many, reeling Texas A&M will have a new starting quarterback on Saturday when the No. 24 Aggies (1-1) host No. 13 Miami (2-0) at 9 p.m. eastern on ESPN.
Junior Max Johnson, who started 12 games last season at LSU, will start in place of sophomore Haynes King. The offense struggled mightily under King’s leadership the last two weeks, particularly in Texas A&M’s 17-14 loss to 18-point underdog Appalachian State on Saturday.
The Battalion, a student paper in College Station, Texas, broke the story with unidentified sources on Thursday night. Following that, TexAgs.com confirmed Johnson as the starter as did the Houston Chronicle. Coach Jimbo Fisher has not commented on the depth chart change, though he hinted at it during his press conference after the game Saturday.
“Possibly,” he said when asked, “Do you give another quarterback a shot?”
“We’ll evaluate everything,” Fisher said.
Johnson began taking most of the first team repetitions as the past week went on.
Haynes King played his way out
King, who beat out Zach Calzada for the starting job last season before breaking his leg in game two and missing the rest of the season, completed 13 of 20 passes for 97 yards against Appalachian State and lost a fumble deep in his territory that set up a Mountaineer touchdown.
Calzada started the rest of the 2021 season and directed the Aggies to an upset of No. 1 Alabama, but he transferred to Auburn after the season.
On the 2022 season, King is No. 8 in the Southeastern Conference and No. 49 nationally in efficiency at 152.2 on 33-of-51 passing for 461 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. He threw both picks in the opening, 31-0 win over Sam Houston State.
Max Johnson gets his shot to run the show
Johnson completed 3 of 4 passes for 23 yards with an 11-yard run in the opener against Sam Houston State. In 2021, Johnson finished eighth in the SEC and No. 54 in the nation in efficiency at 144.4 on 225-of-373 passing for 2,815 yards with 27 touchdowns and six interceptions. That was behind a weak LSU offensive line, which allowed Johnson to be sacked 33 times, as he spent much of his time, particularly, in the first half of the season running for his life.
Johnson was surrounded by ineptitude in 2021 at LSU as head coach Ed Orgeron significanlty lost his focus shortly after winning the national title in the 2019 season. Orgeron hired inexperienced Jake Peetz to be his offensive coordinator for the 2021 season basically because Peetz worked under 2019 LSU offensive coordinator Joe Brady in 2020 with the Carolina Panthers. But Peetz had never been an offensive coordinator, and it showed as he often didn’t get the play to Johnson until it was very late on the play clock. Peetz is now a lower level offensive assistant with the NFL Los Angeles Rams.
LSU’s offensive line in 2021 was coached by Brad Davis, who had just been hired that June, and players struggled with his system on such short notice. He replaced James Cregg after a strange firing by LSU that resulted in Cregg just winning a lawsuit against LSU.
A son of former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson, Max Johnson possesses very good running ability, which is why he won the starting job at LSU in 2021. He was in the process of beating out 2020 starter Myles Brennan for that reason before Brennan broke his arm just before the 2021 opener and was lost for the season.
Johnson replaced TJ Finley as LSU’s starter in 2020 as a freshman for the last two games of the season and played spectacularly. He completed 21 of 36 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns while rushing 18 times for 52 yards in a 37-34 upset at No. 6 Florida. He became the first LSU quarterback to throw three TDs in a game at The Swamp.
The next week against Ole Miss, Johnson completed 27 of 51 passes for 435 yards and another TD in a 53-48 win. Finley transferred to Auburn before the 2021 season and has started this season.
Johnson transferred out of LSU after last season, joining his younger brother – tight end Jake Johnson, who is a true freshman with the 2022 Aggies.