Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: Football runs deep through his veins. His father had a 15 year NFL career and won a Super Bowl. His mother was a volleyball star at South Florida University.
The 6'-5" 229lbs four star quarterback from Athens, Georgia found himself third on the depth chart when he arrived at LSU at the beginning of the 2020 season. However, the team's starter, Myles Brennan would be lost for the season due to injury and after a few brief appearances in relief of a struggling T.J. Finley, Johnson found himself named the starter for the final two games of the season.
Max Johnson didn't disappoint. The true freshmen played like an experienced upperclassmen with leadership and poise.
First was Florida in Gainesville. The hostile environment never rattled the young man as he would finish 21-36, for 239 yards
passing, with 3 touchdowns while adding 52 yards rushing on 18 carries. Many of those rushing yards came on big scrambles for key first downs that kept scoring drives alive. When the clock ran out on that foggy Florida night, the 13th ranked Gators had fallen to LSU, 37-34.
Next up for the 4-5 Tigers was the Ole Miss Rebels in Tiger Stadium. This earlier season contest had been rescheduled to the final game of the year due to COVID-19 problems within the Rebels program.
Johnson picked up right where he left off in Gainesville, as he would lead the Tigers to an electrifying 53-48 victory
in Death Valley. He would outgun Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral in the high scoring shootout, going 27-51, for 435 yards passing, with 3 touchdown passes and one interception. Once again, Johnson made several huge plays with his feet, rushing for 45 yards on 14 carries, including two rushing touchdowns.
After the disappointing 5-5 season in 2020, the LSU football program was looking to bounce back to their winning ways. To everyone's surprise T.J. Finley would enter the transfer portal after finding himself third on the depth chart behind Max Johnson and Myles Brennan at the conclusion of spring camp. Several expected Myles Brennan who started the 2020 season, putting up Heisman type numbers through the first three games before his season ended, to win his starting position back. However, the weekend before fall practice would begin, Brennan would break his left arm in a freak accident while on a fishing trip. This incident would make Johnson the starter for the beginning of the 2021 season.
The Tigers looked horrible in the season opener losing to UCLA on the road, but Johnson, offensive coordinator Jake Peetz, and passing game coordinator D.J. Mangus would slowly begin to gel. With a sputtering running attack and a offensive line struggling in pass protection, the offense would begin to go with a hurry up, fast tempo style that has helped open things up for the sophomore quarterback. So far Max Johnson's stats rank with the best in the NCAA as he has put up impressive numbers so far. After four games Johnson has completed 64.4% of his passes going 87-135 for 1,144 yards passing, 15 touchdown passes while only throwing three interceptions. He has a passing rating of 167.8 .... Yet, you hear no one in the national media speak of this young man and what he has accomplished so far. He is 5-1 as LSU's starting quarterback and has passed for three or more touchdowns in each of those six games.
This Saturday LSU (3-1) will host the 3-1 Auburn Tigers in a huge SEC West contest. Look for #14 in the purple and gold to stay as cool as a cucumber and make the big plays to lead his Tigers to victory. There is a good chance we will see T.J. Finley at quarterback for Auburn at some point during the game. If so, it will be interesting to see who out plays who.
Max Johnson has done nothing to put himself in jeopardy of losing the starting role to Myles Brennan once Brennan is able to return in a week or two. If this team can continue to make steady improvement from week to week, look for Johnson's numbers to steadily improve, putting himself into Heisman consideration. Could he become as good as Joe Burrow? Time will tell for this very talented and special young man. Another gem that LSU has landed..
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