No Sweat

When Jamie Christensen's 45-yard field goal slipped over the crossbar in the Cotton Bowl to end Alabama's 10-2 football season with a win over Texas Tech, the Brodie Croyle era of Alabama football was over. At that moment John Parker Wilson became the Crimson Tide quarterback. But he hasn't started a game yet.

In fact, John Parker Wilson, a 6-3, 215-pound sophomore, has played in only the most limited role for Alabama, never when the game was on the line. In spot duty in four games last year he completed 7 of 11 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. He also had one rushing touchdown.

That will change at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday when Alabama opens the 2006 season hosting Hawaii at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"I don't think I'll be nervous," Wilson said following Sunday afternoon's two-hour Alabama practice as game week arrived. "There's been a lot of study and a lot of preparation. I feel confident with the preparation we've had."

He said, "We've got one week left to prepare. We've looked at them (Hawaii's defense) a lot and I feel good about the stuff we've put in."

Wilson has been a quarterback throughout his career as a successful high school player and even though he's just a sophomore he's been in the Bama program since the Tide was preparing for the Music City Bowl at the end of the 2004 season.

Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said, "John Parker has done a good job for the most part of just being himself. He's the kind of player who asks a lot of questions. The guys respond to him. And he's been throwing the ball well.

"There are a lot of good indicators, and I hope it shows up that way Saturday."

Shula has said that it's important to have an offense in which the quarterback is comfortable. Wilson is aware of that. "We talk about plays, about whether I'm comfortable," he said. "But I think it's more by actions. The coaches know. They do a great job. We talk a lot, but I'm not involved in making the game plan or anything like that."

Wilson said, "We've had a great camp. We've got a great group of guys and we're all really close. I think we've gotten better from the first day. I can see improvement in our timing. We have great trust in one another. We've come together and made great strides from the start."

Wilson said the offense has great confidence in the Alabama defense, even though there will be at least seven new starters on that unit Saturday night. "I don't think the defense is going to miss a beat," he said. "I think they will be as good as they were last year. Our goal will be the same. We're going to try to score points and take care of the football."

As any quarterback, Wilson has suffered the occasional interception in practice, and drawn criticism from Shula for it. But the Tide head coach has also pointed out that Wilson can forget the bad play and move on.

"That's an important part of the job," Wilson said. "It's after an interception, but it's also after a touchdown pass. You can't get too high or too low."

Wilson said he's looking forward to playing in remodeled and expanded (92,138) Bryant-Denny Stadium. "It's going to be a great place to play," he said. "I can't wait to be in there."


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