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Max Johnson Does Just Enough in 'Freaking Awesome' First Texas A&M Start

Former LSU starter and Haynes King backup leads the Aggies to a win over ranked Miami.
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Max Johnson didn’t set the world on fire in his first start at Texas A&M.

But he won.

And that’s all that matters.

For now … at least.

Johnson and the No. 24 Aggies gutted out a 17-9 win over No. 13 Miami in front of an overflowing Kyle Field on Saturday night.

“It’s freaking awesome,” Johnson beamed after the game. “I love playing with these guys. Going to practice every day. Coming out here, getting a win over a top‑15 team is pretty incredible. Shout out to the O‑line and to the defense for playing great.”

The former LSU starter who transferred to Texas A&M after beating the Aggies in his last start for the Tigers sat on the bench for two games before getting his chance. Johnson might have been the permanent backup had Haynes King taken control of the A&M offense like Jimbo Fisher hoped.

King, though, looked ordinary and pitiful in the Aggies’ first two games, with the miserable upset loss to Appalachian State leaving Fisher searching for answers.

The move to Johnson wasn’t exactly a stroke of genius. He lost a close battle to King despite having a ton more experience, including 14 starts at LSU. Johnson threw 27 touchdowns last year – the last to beat the Aggies in Baton Rouge in a slugfest that closed out Ed Orgeron’s run with the Tigers.

The toughness and grit displayed that night in Death Valley was exactly what Aggies fans were longing for after two sputtering showings to open the season.

“Just played with very good consistency,” Fisher said of Johnson. “Knowing what we were doing and what we were doing in the game plan. He played very good and was accurate with the ball. Made good decisions.”

Johnson, again, didn’t exactly light it up. He completed 10-of-20 passes for just 140 yards and a touchdown that was more about Devon Achane breaking tackles. Johnson added a 23 yards rushing on seven attempts, with a long of 11.

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“He just came in, took control of the offense, and was just giving us that confidence that we needed to, to go out and play,” Aggies offensive lineman Layden Robinson said. “And we won the game. So he did a great job.”

The offense managed only 264 yards overall and struggled to maintain drives after opening the game with a 55-yard march that produced a field goal. Johnson didn't have any luck throwing downfield, much like King.

Those offensive concerns will have Jimbo’s attention going into the SEC opener against No. 10 Arkansas (3-0) on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

But the Aggies coach has to feel better about the most important position on the field. Johnson appeared to have command of the huddle, while doing just enough against a ranked foe with a formidable defense.

“I thought he did a really nice job,” Fisher said during a postgame on-field interview with ESPN. “He led the team, played with poise and didn’t try to take things that weren’t there. Made some plays when they were there.

“We’ve got to get a lot better, but he led us to victory and did the things we had to do.”

That’s enough for now.

For now.

You can find Art Garcia on Twitter @ArtGarcia92.

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