On Friday, following FAU’s first practice of fall camp, FAU coach Lane Kiffin downplayed the decreased velocity on Johnson’s passes as being a reason the redshirt junior didn’t separate himself from Robison, a redshirt freshman, during the spring.
“My opinion is the arm was fine in the spring game,” Kiffin said. “It wasn’t about his arm, it was about where he threw it.”
Part of last season’s FAU quarterback battle, Johnson lost the competition to Daniel Parr but did play in the season’s first game. He didn’t see the field again, though the reason wasn’t a performance issue.
As FAU prepared for Week 2 opponent Wisconsin, Johnson underwent surgery to remove blood clots in his right arm. He spent most of the offseason and spring rebuilding arm strength lost during the surgery and the months that followed.
By the end of spring Johnson figured his arm had returned to about 80 percent of what it was prior to the clots.
Now, he says, he’s operating at full strength.
“It’s great,” Johnson said.
In an attempt to avoid the clots returning, Johnson said he’s eating more healthy foods and is on an aspirin regimen. No other medication, he said, is necessary.
“Now I’m back on a mission,” Johnson said. “My mindset is back on the season, back on playing, back on controlling what I can control.”
His mind is also on the quarterback battle, but not necessarily his competitor. Johnson and Robison don’t appear to be tight off the field, but there also doesn’t seem to be friction.
“At the end of the day it’s a competition,” Johnson said. “We understand that. We help each other out when it comes to certain things, but at the end of the day we’re competing.”
Quarterback competitions are nothing new to Johnson. It’s his fourth in four years, starting at Florida St. before moving to East Mississippi C.C., then FAU.
Having been though it before, Johnson says, does make it easier.
“You get comfortable seeing a lot of looks,” Johnson said. “You know what it is you’re supposed to do. You know what the coach is looking for. You know how to go into training camp. You know how to conduct the them, how to carry yourself.”
For Robison this camp marks his first true quarterback battle. Oklahoma dismissed him last August as a true freshman following his arrest for public intoxication.
Robison transferred to FAU where he ran the scout team but wasn’t eligible to play until this season.
One fall practice is relatively early in the quarterback decision process, so it isn’t surprising that Kiffin didn’t see significant growth in either quarterback or separation between the two since the spring game.
“I don’t know that I saw a big jump by those two guys,” Kiffin said.
Kiffin is eager to pick a quarterback and move forward, but he won’t rush the process, noting that coaches at the highest levels often rush to the wrong decision.
“The sooner the better,” Kiffin said. “We never set days because we don’t want to force the decision and make the wrong decision. It’s always difficult. It’s not an exact science. Everyone screws it up. They screw it up in the NFL.