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Give Tide QB Wilson time -- he'll be fine
Tuesday, October 02, 2007

By Darren Epps

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- John Parker Wilson is a super quarterback -- did you see those 28 completions against Florida State? -- who drinks milk before his 9 p.m. bedtime and never misses class.

OK, OK, so this column won't be Mike Gundy-approved, but it will defend Alabama's embattled quarterback from mounting criticism.

Yes, Wilson is struggling. He's overthrowing his receivers, he's tossing balls into double-coverage, his receivers are getting decked after making catches and his footwork makes Elaine Benes look like a good dancer.

Former NFL quarterback Gary Danielson made the footwork observation during the CBS telecast of Florida State's 21-14 win over Alabama last Saturday.

"I actually pointed that out to him," Wilson said later. "It's just something I've got to work on."

Here's another part of the game Wilson needs to work on -- the offense. It's new, remember? There's a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Everyone on the offensive side is learning under a new position coach. It takes time.

I seem to remember Chris Leak, who won a national championship last year, appearing downright petrified in losses to Alabama and LSU in Urban Meyer's first season. Leak didn't post great numbers in an early-season win over Tennessee that year, either.

Evidence of Wilson's uneasiness in the new system is obvious. First, he's holding on to the ball too long. That's a sign of an uncertain quarterback. And since Wilson is not exactly Randall Cunningham in the pocket, he's taking some sacks.

On the fourth-quarter fumble, Wilson drifted and drifted and drifted until Everette Brown knocked the ball loose. It was not a smart play, but it did lead to this incredible exchange between 77-year-old Florida State coach Bobby Bowden and a reporter after the game.

Bowden: "Then they take the ball down and fumble at (Florida State's) 5?"

Reporter: "No, they were at their own 5."

Bowden: "Oh, their own 5. And they fumbled it, and we got it. We didn't score nothing, did we?"

Reporter: "Yeah, you did."

Bowden: "If I'm getting too old for y'all, let me know, will you?"

Which begs the question -- if Parker fumbles and Bowden can't remember it, did he really fumble?

Alabama fans will emphatically nod yes, but Florida State's speed certainly overwhelmed the Tide. For the second straight week, Alabama couldn't help Wilson with a consistent running game. Receivers couldn't get open. DJ Hall is still not healthy.

"When you can't run the football and get them blocked, that's not the quarterback's fault," coach Nick Saban said. "When you can't pass-protect to get the ball off, that's not the quarterback's fault. I didn't think (quarterback play) was the issue."

Wilson proved he could excel in the SEC as a starting quarterback last year. Learning a new offense is certainly stunting his development and Wilson will never have the SEC's strongest arm, but he's already displayed the moxie needed to play quarterback in this league.

In case some Alabama fans forgot, Wilson led the last-minute scoring drive against Arkansas with Hall limping through his routes and threw the winning touchdown pass. He performed similar heroics against Georgia the following week, scrambling for the tying touchdown.

He also made the Florida State game interesting in the fourth quarter with two touchdown passes.

"All this stuff about the attempts and the yards -- that don't matter," Saban said. "It was all after the fact and it didn't matter. All this stuff about coming back into the game -- it's only good if you come back and win."

Well, fine. But fans should be patient -- Wilson will flourish given a chance to learn the system.

And I'm not writing that just for Mike Gundy's benefit.

Link Here

I thought he made some good points and valid statements.

Good find 425.
We gotta have faith boys and girls. Obviously Coach Saban knows better than any of us so, if he says JPW will be fine,I'm good with it.
He does make a few good points, but still learning the offense is not why John Parker stares down one receiver. IMO, that's his worst fault right now. He decides who he's going to throw the ball to before he gets the snap. 9 times out of 10, if that guy is covered, then it's either thrown into coverage, QB scramble or a sack.
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