Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- As far as first tests go, Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson wasn't bewildered. He made enough plays and directed the offense in his initial start to give him confidence for the future.
Johnson's statistical line didn't look bad as far as a first game starter, completing 19 of 32 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. But he was sacked three times and fumbled five times - losing one of them -- as Miami pulled away to a 41-22 victory that sent the Aggies crashing to their second-straight home loss.
"One thing that our coaches preach, especially at the quarterback position, is not to turn the ball over," Johnson said. "I had a couple and that's the thing we can't have."
Perhaps most critical were two key turnovers during a 61-second span midway through the third quarter that enabled Miami to blow the game open. Even as Johnson tried to talk dispassionately about his mistakes, you could tell they still hurt as he relived them.
Under heavy pressure, Johnson threw an interception directly to Eric Moncur deep in his own territory. Miami wasted little time as quarterback Robert Marve hooked up with Kayne Farquharson on a 15-yard touchdown pass on the next play.
Johnson's struggles continued on the next series. He fumbled after failing to protect the ball under heavy Miami pressure and linebacker Glenn Cook pounced on the fumble for a 2-yard TD return that pushed the lead to 41-10.
"On the first turnover, I actually didn't see what happened," Johnson said. "And on the last one, I could have gotten the ball of quicker. I probably should have tucked it in or taken the sack. I'll take full credit for both of them."
That mistake sent many of the Kyle Field fans scurrying for the exits -- a huge contrast from a spectacular start that had them chanting his name earlier in the day.
Johnson had thrilled them with a 62-yard screen pass to Michael Goodson on A&M's first play from scrimmage that gave the Aggies a huge early surge of momentum.
He later added two more touchdown passes in garbage time that will give him something to build on. But there are some others that merit his attention as well.
"When you play a young quarterback, you're going to get the good with the bad," A&M coach Mike Sherman said. "That was the balance there. He had the great play to start the game. There were a couple of other great plays. And then some others that we will learn from. He'll learn from those mistakes as we go on."