LSU QB Max Johnson likely to start for second straight game

LSU quarterbacks Max Johnson (14) throws the ball from the end zone during a game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. Dec. 12, 2020. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron wants to let the remaining day of the week play out with Friday’s practice but believed true freshman quarterback Max Johnson may have positioned himself for his home debut.

It would be quite an encore for Johnson who helped lead the Tigers to an upset of then No. 6 ranked Florida, 37-34, in Gainesville last week.

LSU (4-5) is scheduled to conclude its 2020 season against Ole Miss (4-4) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium.

The game will be broadcast by the SEC Network.

“We haven’t decided yet, we usually decide on Friday,” Orgeron said “We look at the whole week’s work, but it looks like it’s going to be Max. He had another great week, so has T.J. (Finley). I have no problem playing both, but we’re going to decide tomorrow. It looks like it’s going to be Max.”

Johnson turned in a winning performance in his debut as a starter last week, completing 21 of 36 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns. He added 52 yards on 18 carries and didn’t turn the ball over.

Orgeron confirmed LSU will be missing a couple of starters on the offensive side of the football, while two others will be game day decisions.

The Tigers will be without leading rusher Ty Davis-Price and right offensive guard Chasen Hines who were both injured during the Florida game and didn’t return to action.

Fellow running back John Emery Jr. was also injured during the course of the game, while All-America cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. was injured during warm-ups and was a late scratch from the game.

Both are questionable to play against Ole Miss.

“They could play, they could not,” he said. “It all depends on how they’re feeling the next couple of days.”

Here’s what else Orgeron had to say:

Opening remarks

“(Ole Miss head coach) Lane’s (Kiffin) done an outstanding job with his team at Ole Miss. Very explosive offense. It’s Senior Night, we’re playing in Tiger Stadium. We have some momentum built. We’ve got to build on that momentum and we want to walk out of that stadium winners.”

On relationship becoming closer with Kiffin while they coached together at USC

“I’ll never forget that. I buried my dad on a Thursday. Lane got a private jet from Los Angeles, flew to Mandeville and to South Bend, Ind. (a 31-17 win over Notre Dame) and they paid for it. I’ll never forget that. I did the eulogy for my father and we won the game, he gave me the game ball and I really appreciate it. That made us more than a coaching relationship. That was a friendship that will last forever.”

On the decision not to play in a bowl game this year

“I know it’s the right decision. If we’re going to have a one-year bowl ban, then take it this year. There’s no question. With the team that we have, hopefully we end up 5-5, that’s not good enough to go to a bowl in my opinion. You want to be 11-1, 10-2, 12-0 and going to the College Football Playoffs. That’s the standard of LSU.”

On the meaning this year’s team will have for you

“This is a special group of men, a special group of coaches. Opting out was not an option. It just wasn’t. I know it got tough at times, but we all learned a life lesson. Tough times never last, tough people do. To see the elation on everyone’s face in The Swamp was worth every second.”

On the key for the defense’s continued improved play

“No busts. Keep the ball in front of us. Stay in between the goal posts and the man and tackle. Lane likes to run the football. We’re going to have to stop the run. He knows how to run the ball with different shifts and motions. Hurry-up is the fastest offense. Corral is an excellent quarterback. The thing that hurts you is the deep balls. He’s going to find some spots. He knows what to do. You can watch the Alabama game. That was a great game he called. He was on fire. I’ve been at Ole Miss. This is their red-letter game. I told the team we’re going to have to play our best game.”

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