I love TaQuon Marshall and will ride his hype train as far as it goes, but he tended to overextend himself in 2017, carrying the ball 247 times over the course of the season (for reference, Justin Thomas never went above 190). I think that this season CPJ will reign him in a little bit more and give Lucas Johnson some opportunities as a reliever. He’s seen basically zero game action so far in his career (one carry for one yard against uga in 2017 but hey, that’s a better first carry than Quaide Weimerskirch) but as the likely successor to TaQuon, now is the perfect time for him to start gaining experience. Here are some ways he could have a breakout season in 2018:
As the better passer of the QBs on roster, I believe Lucas should and will get brought out in obvious third down passing situations and two-minute offense sets. We’ve seen the offense struggle with these situations under rushing-oriented Justin Thomas and Marshall, but Lucas provides a slightly different skill-set that could really shine here. He’s more of a true passer and was lauded for his ball placement and accuracy as a recruit. Usually multiple-quarterback systems don’t work out, but I don’t think we’re trying to fool anyone. Everyone knows we need to pass on 3rd and 11 so why not put our best passer on the field? What’s more, he’s a pretty elusive scrambler that’s hard to bring down. Take a look at his senior year highlights:
There’s also a strong precedent of CPJ putting in the backup QB in goal line situations (Matthew Jordan got six rushing touchdowns in 2015 and Tim Byerly got seven in 2014). With his impressive size, Lucas is the perfect guy to shove through the pile for six. He can prevent TaQuon from having to take the hard hits while still being a huge scoring threat on his own.
Finally, CPJ will certainly want to give Lucas some game experience as he seems to be the heir-apparent to TaQuon. With TaQuon sidelined during the Spring Game, Lucas took over as the first-team quarterback and had an impressive showing with 143 passing yards and two scores. He’s a completely different player, so having him ease into the offense through passing and goal line situations should be a great way to play to his strengths and build his confidence. He should also get the chance to play a few full series in garbage time when we’re up big (here’s to hoping this happens often…). It’s still TaQuon’s team, but look for Lucas to carve out a niche for himself as a scoring specialist.
Breakout Prediction: 3 passing and 5 rushing touchdowns, one awesome hit stick on the goal line that we will still include on highlight reels in 2050.