Rising Freshman: Johnson shines in first start, inline for another

Scooter Hobbs

LSU freshman quarterback Max Johnson now has one college start — and one Southeastern Conference offensive player of the week honor.

It will probably earn him a second start when the Tigers finish the season Saturday at home against Ole Miss.

The conference honored Johnson Monday for his role in Saturday’s’ 37-34 mega-upset of Florida.

Head coach Ed Orgeron will continue to monitor the weekly duel between Johnson and fellow freshman TJ Finley, who had started the previous five games since starter Myles Brennan went down.

“We’ll talk about it this week and see what the game plan is,” Orgeron said. “We wanted Max because of his mobility, not that TJ doesn’t (have it). And we wanted to get Max the chance to start. TJ had his opportunity to do it, and he did very well sometimes.”

Johnson was noticeably limping late in the Florida game. Orgeron called it a “minor injury” and said Johnson would likely be limited in Monday’s practice, but expects him to be 100 percent by the end of the week.

Against the Gators, Johnson was 21-36 for 239 yards and three touchdowns. It was the most ever completions for an LSU freshman making his first start and his three touchdown passes were most by any Tiger ever in Gainesville. He also ran for 52 yards on 13 carries and was not sacked.

That’s not what impressed Orgeron the most however.

“Max’s leadership, his toughness, his ability to run the football, his ability to make decisions under pressure,” Orgeron said. “And the biggest thing is no turnovers.

“Going into The Swamp, his first game … think about this. You’re a true freshman … you’re a 23-point underdog and you win. That tells you a lot about the young man.”

Johnson directed a shorthanded team to one of the biggest upsets in school history and left the Tigers (4-5) with a chance to break even on the rough season with a win over Ole Miss.

Orgeron expects the Tigers will get a few bodies back for the finale, including linebacker Micah Baskerville, who didn’t make the Florida trip after he got sick shortly before the team left for Gainesville.

” Micah’s going to be available this week,” Orgeron said. “He became ill, wasn’t able to travel. And he’s better now. He’s clear. And I think that he’ll practice this week and he’ll be fine.

“We gotta see. We gotta see what’s going to happen this week. It’s early. I think we had 54 guys available (last week) or something like that. We’ll see. Whatever it takes, but if we can do it in The Swamp, we can do it at home.”

BIG FOOT: LSU’s Cade York, who provided the game-winning points against Florida with a school-record 57-yard field goal through a heavy fog, picked up two awards this week.

He was named the SEC’s special teams player of the week as well as the Lou Groza national award for the NCAA’s kicker of the week.

His game-winner, one of three he hit in the game, was the second-longest in the NCAA this season. For his career York is now 5-of-6 from beyond 50 yards.

STOCKING STUFFERS: The fallout over LS-Shoe continues unabated — the odd play where a Florida player drew a 15-yard penalty for throwing tight end Kole Taylor’s cleats downfield to keep the Tigers’ game-winning drive alive.

It might even allow Orgeron to knock out his Christmas shopping.

“I’ve been asked to give a bunch of shoes for Christmas,” Orgeron laughed. ” I don’t know why. My Christmas list has become shoes. I don’t know why people want shoes from me.

“But just to see those three flags on the field and see a chance for us to win the game and see the joy in our players and our coaches face in the locker room. Love it.”

YOUTH MOVEMENT: Orgeron said that LSU played 26 freshmen and sophomores against Florida. He also noted that all 37 points were scored by either freshmen or sophomores.

RELOAD: Wednesday is the early signing period for football. Not all of LSU’s commitments are likely to sign then, but Orgeron expects to pick up 15-20.LSU quarterback Max Johnson (14) scrambles during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Florida on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

John Raoux

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