Texas A&M bounced back from its Week 2 defeat to Appalachian State with a 17-9 win over No. 13 Miami on Saturday night.
The game was as much of an offensive struggle as the score indicated and while No. 24 Texas A&M’s quarterback switch paid off with a win, the offensive results weren’t too inspiring with Max Johnson at QB instead of Haynes King.
The Aggies had just 265 yards of total offense and Johnson was just 10-of-20 passing for 140 yards. The LSU transfer got the start on Saturday night after King threw for 97 yards in the loss to App State.
"I thought he did a really nice job," Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said of Johnson after the game on ESPN. "He led the team, played with poise and didn't try to take things that weren't there. Made some plays that were there. We've got to get a lot better but he led us to victory and did the things we had to do in our game plan."
Much like Appalachian State did a week ago, Miami had the ball more than the Aggies did. But they settled for five field goal attempts in Texas A&M territory, including at the end of 12-play drive in the third quarter.
A&M took a 17-3 lead at the start of the second half when Johnson found Devon Achane on a 25-yard TD pass. Miami responded with a 71-yard drive that took over six minutes but the Hurricanes and coach Mario Cristobal eschewed going for it on 4th and goal at the A&M 4 to kick a short field goal.
Miami never got that close to the end zone again, though A&M tried to gift the Hurricanes a golden opportunity for a tie with less than four minutes to go. Ainias Smith dropped a punt inside his own 10 but somehow grabbed the ball off the turf before a horde of Hurricanes descended upon the ball.
The Hurricanes got one more opportunity to get a touchdown and a two-point conversion for the tie but didn't get much into A&M territory before turning the ball over on downs when Tyler Van Dyke's pass went through Brashard Smith's hands.
While Miami had over 100 yards more than A&M did, it was an uneven offensive performance for the Hurricanes. Tyler Van Dyke was just 21-of-41 passing for 217 yards without receiver Xavier Restrepo in the lineup and tight end Will Mallory left the game in the second half after he landed on his head when getting tackled after a catch and run.
Henry Parrish Jr. and Jaylan Knighton combined to rush for over 150 yards but the Hurricanes stalled out whenever they started to sniff the A&M end zone. Andres Borregales also missed two field goals.
A&M, meanwhile, will need to get better quarterback play from Johnson or King if it wants to be a contender in the SEC West. The offense simply can’t rely on Achane to do everything.
Achane had nearly half of the Aggies’ offense with 88 rushing yards and 42 receiving yards while Smith had 74 receiving yards on four catches. Smith and Achane form one of the best running back and receiver tandems in the SEC but need a quarterback to consistently carry the offense.
Given Fisher's comments after the game, we won't be surprised if Johnson starts again in Week 4 against No. 10 Arkansas. But he and the A&M offense will need to be a lot better for the Aggies to not drop to 2-2.