Max Johnson Wakes Up for Texas A&M Football
The past two weeks have not exactly been stellar for the Aggie backup quarterback. He’s taken a lot of heat—both from blitzers on the field as well as fans on the internet. Johnson is certainly a capable thrower of the football, but his ability to process the offense has come into question after he has shown a habit of missing some wide-open reads downfield against both Alabama and Tennessee.
The fact of the matter is that this is a tough offense for any quarterback who’s not a quick decision-maker to run, unless you are consummately skilled at presnap reads (such as Kellen Mond in 2020). The Aggies have not had such a player behind center outside of Weigman over the past three years, nor have they had someone with the requisite experience to read the defense before the play and change things accordingly. This is the case with both Jimbo and Petrino’s systems, as the two are functionally the same (again, the hope with hiring Bobby P was always that he would be able to better communicate and teach the system, rather than change things up, and bring a specific flavor to things that was lacking beforehand).
One thing that makes things look way easier in this system, as would be the case with pretty much any system, is a solid running game. When the Aggies stay ahead of the chains, they miraculously look competent in the passing game all of a sudden! Favorable downs and distances do wonders in this system, especially for a guy like Max. As I’ve been calling for since he first got behind center, you have to keep him playing within himself, limit his attempts, give him a heavy mix of play-action passing, and you’ll be golden. Those are his strengths—and I think we see him lean on those strengths in this game.