Wilson Stays On Even Keel

The start of a new football season is reason enough for a player to have butterflies. Now make him the center of attention, the quarterback. Throw in a new high-profile head coach. In fact, all new coaches. And that means a new system. Nervous?

"I'm pretty even," Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson said as the Crimson Tide worked towards Saturday's season-opening football game against Western Carolina. "I don't get too excited, not too much up or down."

Alabama will host the Western Carolina Catamounts at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday at sold-out Bryant-Denny Stadium. The only telecast of the game will be on a pay-per-view basis through cable systems and satellite services.

Wilson heads up an offense that is expected to be very potent in 2007, in great part because of the numbers the 6-2, 213-pound junior put up in his first year as a starter last year. Wilson set Alabama records for yards passing (2,707), touchdowns (17), attempts (379), and completions (216). He also had a record nine 200-yard passing games.

Wilson will benefit from his experience of a year ago. "I think now I know what to expect," he said. "Going (against) Hawaii last year, it's kind of like a blur because I didn't know what it was like to be a starter here. Now I do. Now I know how to get prepared for the game and know what game day is going to be like, know what all this is going to be like, how to handle all this, handle classes, handle studying and everything. I know what to expect now."

He doesn't know what the offense will like like, though, because he doesn't know what Offensive Coordinator Major Applewhite will be calling. "No, not really," he said. "Just from what we've had scrimmages against can be the only indication but we're going to go out there and run the plays that he calls and execute them to the best of our ability every play."

Wilson has the businesslike approach to the game that his head coach, Nick Saban, seems to be looking for from all players Saturday.

Asked if he was excited about all of the new aspects of the year, he shrugged and said, "I guess. We still have to go out there and play. It doesn't matter if we have a new offense or anything. The other team doesn't care about that. They're trying to win just like we are. We've got to go out there and execute and play every play like it's going to be the game."

He said he thinks Alabama's team is "much better prepared. Now we have to go out and do the best we can. We have to stay focused on football. It's a team sport played by individuals. Each individual has to handle his assignment and help out the other ten guys. You have to stay on the game plan. It's tough, but you can't get too excited or too down. Just like you play one game at a time, you have to play one play at a time. Everyone knows his role. Now we've got to go out and do it."

Wilson said he has probably grown mentally more than physically. He said, "It really is [mental growth] because there's a lot that goes on with doing this job. You really have to keep everything organized and keep everything in order to get stuff done."

It should please Saban that Wilson doesn't exhibit what Saban calls the "Poor Me" syndrome. A reporter noted that Alabama's most recent win came last season against a woeful Florida International team, and that Alabama finished 2006 on a four-game losing streak. Wilson said, "Last season is over with. We're looking forward to this season. We think we've worked hard to get where we are right now. Now we've just got to go show it."

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