Wilson Optimistic

A reporter asked Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson if he had seen any videotape of Ole Miss quarterback Brent Schaeffer, who will be the opponent Saturday. Wilson hasn't seen Schaeffer, but he has seen Patrick Willis.

Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson doesn't have time to spend looking at videotapes of the upcoming opponent on offense. This week he's been looking at the Ole Miss defense. And what he has seen is the Rebels' outstanding middle linebacker, Patrick Willis.

"That kid is good," Wilson said. "He sticks it. He flies to the ball and hits hard. He's a really good player."

Wilson called the Mississippi defense "very intense. It centers on that linebacker. He lights people up. They are a good team, a solid defense. They are coached well. They always are going to be in the right spot."

Wilson may take some hits from Willis and company Saturday when Bama hosts the Rebels. Kickoff in Bryant-Denny Stadium is at 2:30 p.m. with television coverage by CBS.

He did last week in a tough win over Duke.

"I took some hits," Wilson said. "They weren't necessarily the fault of the offensive line. A couple were definitely my fault."

Two hits he took didn't bother him. "I'll take them on a touchdown," Wilson said.

Wilson didn't see the end result of either of his two touchdown passes, a four-yard, across-the-field save to D.J. Hall and a nine-yard over-the-middle rocket to Keith Brown.

Some of the hits on the Tide quarterback seemed a little late. "Yeah," Wilson agreed. "I don't know about those Dukies."

Wilson has been having a good year in his first season as Alabama's quarterback. He ranks fifth in the Southeastern Conference and 29th in the nation in passing yardage at 234.2 yards per game and seventh in the SEC and 39th in the country in passing efficiency.

He has completed 102 of 169 passes (60.4 per cent) for 1,373 yards with nine touchdowns and five interceptions.

That's partly because he has two receivers who rank among the nation's best. D.J. Hall is second in the SEC and seventh in the nation in receiving yards at 96.8 yards per game and Keith Brown is third in the league and 18th in the nation at 83.8 yards per game. Brown leads the SEC in receptions per game with his 36 in six games.

Wilson isn't surprised at the success of his wide receivers. "I've always thought highly of those guys," he said. "They've really stepped up. They make plays. It's tough on a defense to have to guard two guys like that."

Alabama has long been considered primarily a rushing team, but halfway through this season Bama is averaging 231.3 yards per game passing, only 135.5 yards per game rushing.

Wilson said, "I don't know if we've changed. We've always had good rushing. The defenses have adjusted to that -- 8 or 9 in the box -- and we have to adjust.

"Ole Miss is more of an SEC defense, more like our defense. It will be good to see that kind of defense."

Alabama Coach Mike Shula wasn't sure what Wilson meant by that. "Maybe he meant it's a defense he has seen more," Shula said. "But Ole Miss will do a lot of things to confuse you."

Wilson said, "Anytime you play an SEC game it's going to be tough. You can't take anyone in the SEC lightly. We need to go out and take care of the ball and move the ball."

He said he hoped that Bama scoring two touchdowns in the Red Zone last week may be a sign that the Tide has worked out of that problem.

Although two losses in six games have been disappointing, Wilson thinks Alabama is in good position. "We've had bright spots in every game," he said. "When we're clicking on all cylinders, we're pretty tough. That's all 11 guys doing their job. Then there are times when we have one or two breakdowns. That's disappointing because we know how good we can be. It's a team sport, but every individual has to do his job

"We need to have good ball security and good time of possession. Coach Shula tells me to live to have another play. Don't try to get it all done at once."


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