09 June 2008
| John Parker Wilson - #14 - QB - 6-2 - 213 lbs - Hoover High School - Hoover, AL - 2 Letters Earned
There is no position on the football field that faces more intense scrutiny than the quarterback. Do the job well and you become a hero, a legend, a football immortal. Do it poorly and you become a joke, a choke artist, or the reason the team can’t win games. In reality the truth lies somewhere in between, and John Parker Wilson is a great example of that.
Inconsistency was the big thing for John Parker in the 2007 season; a season in which he broke the Alabama single season records for passing attempts, passing completions, passing yards & passing TDs. But most Bama fans don’t remember those records. They remember the interception at the end of the half against Mississippi State, or the fumble late in the 4th quarter against LSU. A great come from behind 4th quarter drive to beat Arkansas was possible because John Parker made several great reads, and several great throws. It was also possible because Alabama had blown an early big lead, and two John Parker turnovers helped in that cause.
Is it a surprise that consistency is a problem for John Parker, though? It’s not like the football world around him has been consistent. There have been coaching changes, from Mike Shula and Dave Rader to Nick Saban and Major Applewhite. There has been a revolving door at running back, with Kenneth Darby, Glenn Coffee, Terry Grant, Roy Upchurch, Jimmy Johns, Tim Castille, LeRon McClain, Roy Upchurch & Jonathan Lowe all struggling to provide Bama with any reliable rushing attack. There was the offensive line shake-up mid way through the 2007 season when his starting center Antoine Caldwell and starting guard Marlon Davis were both lost to 4 game suspensions. His two go-to receivers, DJ Hall & Keith Brown, missed games due to suspensions and injuries. The football world around him has continued to be the model of inconsistency, so is it really a shock that John Parker has struggled to find steady ground with which to become consistent himself?
That’s not meant deflect all responsibility or blame away from John Parker. He is still the guy making the reads, making the decisions, and throwing the passes. I mention it only to point out that far more things go into making a successful QB than just the passer himself. There are guys who have played the position that have such unique athletic skills sets that they can overcome the obstacles around them. Vince Young seemed to will Texas to the 2005 National Championships by himself, for example. But without a consistent ground game and a weak defense, 2007 Heisman Trophy Winner Tim Tebow failed to lead Florida to the SEC Championship game, much less to national title contention.
John Parker isn’t a guy that belongs in that conversation, though. He is not a guy who possesses a unique or elite talent at any part of the game. He isn’t blessed with the great size of Ben Roethlisberger, the great speed of Michael Vick, the quick release of Dan Marino, the cannon arm of Brett Favre, or the pocket presence of Peyton Manning. So John Parker needs the help of those around him to be a successful quarterback, much the way that Jay Barker needed the help of a great offensive line, the steady pounding rushing attack of Derrick Lassic and Sherman Williams, the versatility of David Palmer, and one of the greatest defenses in the history of the game, in order to lead Bama to its last National Championship in 1992.
And that’s the rub for the QB position. All of the great skills or individual great plays are not what you’re judged by. Winning is the key. And in his 2 year tenure as Alabama’s starting quarterback he is 13-13. In order to win, John Parker has to have some help.
John Parker will enter his 3rd season as Alabama's starting quarterback at Alabama, and he will have his 3rd offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. This time, however, the change brings greater experience, and perhaps a calming hand. Prior to Jim McElwain’s arrival at Fresno State, the Bulldogs’ QB Tom Brandstater had a very mediocre 2006 season – a 54.5% completion ratio with 14 interceptions to 13 TDs, 1,490 yards and an 89th ranked QB rating of 106.7. Under McElwain’s watch in 2007 Brandstater improved to a 62.6% completion ratio, 15 TDs to 5 interceptions, 2,654 yards a 23rd ranked 140.5 QB rating.
: John Parker will be the starting QB against Clemson, and barring injury, he’ll remain the starting QB throughout the 2008 season. During the season he will almost certainly become Bama’s all-time leader in career passing attempts, completions, yards, TDs, total plays & total offense.
Jim McElwain likes to simplify things for his QB. He likes to throw screen passes, short passes & intermediate passes, rather than 20 yard outs or deep balls. He’ll call for those passes when the time is right, but he believes in a steady passing attack that makes use of the backs and tight ends to keep the chains moving and keeps the QB’s confidence high.
Combine that with a more experienced offensive line (3 starters returning to their same positions), a better rushing attack (prior to Terry Grant’s injury and Glen Coffee’s suspension, Bama was running well in ’07) and more explosiveness in the receiving corps (DJ Hall & Keith Brown were poor YAC guys) and unlike in 2006 and 2007 John Parker won’t be asked to win games for Alabama
, he’ll be asked to help Alabama win games
There is a huge difference between those two things, and that difference should help John Parker find the consistency that he has lacked. A solid season should see John Parker approach 9,000 career passing yards and 50 TDs. 2008 should be John Parker's best year at Alabama, both on the stat sheet and in the won-loss column.
Next Up Tomorrow: Lionel Mitchell