Max Johnson takes first snaps at quarterback for LSU football as spring drills open
BATON ROUGE - Sophomore Max Johnson is LSU's new starting quarterback as of now.
Johnson took the first snaps with the first team when the Tigers opened spring practice on Tuesday.
"Well, I know this, there's one quarterback on campus that's 2-0, and that's him," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. "Max Johnson has taken the first snaps. He won the last two games for us."
Johnson completed 21 of 36 passes for 239 yards and became the first LSU quarterback in history to throw three touchdowns at Florida in a 37-34 win over the No. 6 Florida in his first college start on Dec. 12. LSU's most athletic quarterback of the three returning, he also rushed 18 times for 52 yards.
A week later, Johnson set an LSU freshman record with 435 passing yards on 27-of-51 passing in a 53-48 win over Ole Miss as the Tigers finished 5-5. He also rushed for two touchdowns, gaining 45 yards on 14 carries.
"That was my call," Orgeron said of the decision. "I just thought that Max won the last two games, so to keep the continuity, let him take the first snaps. And I told him he was going to do that. But the competition is open. Let the best man win."
Senior Myles Brennan, who started the first three games in 2020 but was lost for the season with an abdomen and shoulder injury, backed up Johnson at practice as did sophomore TJ Finley, who started the middle five games.
"I've got to give it to Myles now," Orgeron said. "Myles played good enough to win last season. There's no question about that."
Brennan appeared healed from his injuries and did not have surgery, which was considered.
"He looks 100% to me," Orgeron said. "I don't know if he is, but he's doing everything. He's done everything in the Fourth Quarter (off-season weight training program). He's running around. He ran some boot legs today. He looked very good. He threw very well. He's not complaining about anything. It was something that had to heal on its own with rehab. As far as I know, he's ready to go. He hasn't missed a thing."
Brennan was one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the nation in passing efficiency after three games, but LSU was 1-2 at that point as the defense struggled historically in losses to Mississippi State, 44-34, and Missouri, 45-41.
"TJ against South Carolina (52-24 win) had a tremendous game, too," Orgeron said.
Freshman quarterback signee Garrett Nussmeier impressed Orgeron at practice with his running ability.
"Garrett is very capable," he said. "So, there's no favorite here. I'm going to tell you now, during the Fourth Quarter, Myles graded elite like three or four times. He has worked very hard. He has a great attitude. He's competitive. Let's see what happens."
The only player not practicing because of an injury was starting sophomore cornerback Eli Ricks, who may be back toward the end of spring practice, Orgeron said. Senior linebacker Micah Baskerville of Evangel Christian in Shreveport will not be participating in spring to focus on academics.
"Hopefully, we can get him back in the summer," Orgeron said.
Orgeron was asked about the Husch Blackwell firm's report last month that focused on LSU's mishandling of sexual assault accusations against former Orgeron players Derrius Guice and Drake Davis. The report resulted in two athletic department officials, Verge Ausberry and Miriam Segar, getting suspended, and recommendations to completely revamp LSU's Title IX office and how the school handles such accusations in the future.
"We’re very committed to it," Orgeron said. "We want to be in the forefront. We want to be leaders. In interviews, I told them everything that I knew. You guys saw the report. It was sickening to hear some of the things that have happened. We’re taking the accountability where we have to take the accountability and move on.”