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Wilson taking brunt of criticism after loss
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Sports Reporter

TUSCALOOSA -- A quarterback's actions are often an open book, free for public inspection, debate and disapproval.

"You accept that," Alabama's John Parker Wilson said.

And then, it becomes all about perception.

Alabama's stoic quarterback understands this. He doesn't let teammates, much less the public, see him sweat. He's reserved with his judgments. He won't sit down during interviews, saying it looks better to stand.

As Tuesday afternoon turned to evening, Wilson dropped a binder full of plays, crossed his arms and addressed the critics that tend to grow in numbers after a defeat.

"I don't go looking for it, but of course I do (notice criticism)," Wilson said. "I think I'm the biggest critic of myself than anybody else will ever be. The stuff I hear, I've told myself already, so it doesn't bother me. It really doesn't."

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban agrees with that statement: Wilson is his own toughest critic, although Saban wishes he would relax heading into Saturday's 4 p.m. clash with Florida State.

Saban would rather his quarterback "just settle down."

"Take what the defense gives. Make good decisions," Saban said. "I think sometimes he puts too much pressure on himself, which can get him out of sync a little bit."

Fair or not, Wilson is taking the brunt of Alabama fans' displeasure for last Saturday's 26-23 overtime loss to Georgia. Wilson was 17-of-35 for 185 yards without a passing touchdown, including several key incomplete throws to halt drive. He failed to produce a touchdown in overtime.

The part that most bothered Wilson? The Tide was 3-of-15 on third down.

Here's a secret: He's actually a little flustered about it, too.

"If we don't go out and perform every week, we're pissed off like everybody else," Wilson told reporters. "It's not just coach Saban or y'all or the fans. We get upset, too. That's what keeps us going. That's what makes us want to practice. We want to be good and we know we can be good."

Saban was again critical of the passing game after the Tide misfired on a few promising opportunities. Worst of all, Alabama went three plays in overtime without gaining a yard. Two of the snaps were incomplete passes.

Without naming Wilson, Saban noted that in overtime, "We had a couple of people open, and we didn't hit them."

Wilson's highlights actually came in hurried situations near the end of each half, when he directed Alabama to a field goal and a game-tying touchdown.

"I think he gets in a little bit of rhythm," receiver DJ Hall said. "He doesn't have a lot of time to just think. He just more reacts. Guys get open a lot quicker. He's actually more comfortable with the two-minute offense."

One of the reasons Wilson's slow start in a new offense is so noticeable is because he opened so strong as Brodie Croyle's replacement last season. Wilson set school records in 2006 with 200-yard games in the first seven games and nine overall. Thus far in 2007, Wilson doesn't have a touchdown or 200 yards passing in three of four outings.

Thus a case could be made that quarterback is a rare area of Alabama's team not improving on last season's standards.

"He's not having the start he's capable of," Tide defensive end Wallace Gilberry said, "but I believe if he'll keep pushing forward and block out all the negativity, and focus on the task at hand, he'll come around eventually."

His teammates have tried to shield Wilson from the recent criticism. Hall tells him to not worry about it and "do what you did at Hoover. You were a great quarterback then. You can be a great quarterback now."

Wilson said he leans on his family during good and bad times.

Which is right now? It all depends on the perception.

"He needs to keep that armor on," center Antoine Caldwell said. "He's got to go out this Saturday and have a good game."
Wilson set school records in 2006 with 200-yard games in the first seven games and nine overall. Thus far in 2007, Wilson doesn't have a touchdown or 200 yards passing in three of four outings.

Doesn't have a touchdown. WTF!

This year is the first time he's actually been able to throw in TDs. Before this year, he only threw 1 TD in his college career and that was on his first college game IIRC. :(
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