Sticking Up for JPW

Quarterbacks usually get too much credit when things go well, and too much blame when things go wrong. After facing waves of criticism as the offense struggled through four losses to end the regular season, John Parker Wilson got a lot of credit for Alabama's 30-24 win over Colorado in the PetroSun Independence Bowl Sunday night.

Wilson was named the PetroSun Independence Bowl's Offensive MVP, completing 19 of 32 passes for 256 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also set new single-season records for passing yards (2,846), touchdowns (18), and total offense (2,870). For Tide Coach Nick Saban, it was the perfect time to go to bat for his quarterback over what he considered the unfair criticism.

"I think there's reasons for what happened," Saban said referring to Alabama's offensive decline to end the season. "We're responsible for all those reasons. We had poor judgments in decisions, we had players suspended, we had players getting injured that took those players' place."

"Some of the players who continued to play and do the right things like this guy sitting next to me (Wilson) got blamed for a lot of it," Saban said, "but yet we didn't have the full compliment of players, we couldn't run the ball as well, we didn't have running backs, we had three or four guys out on the offensive line. Never did he complain a bit, alls he did was work harder, try to prepare better and try to play better and do what was best for his team. It's unfair for him to suffer for what some other people didn't do which affected our chemistry on offense especially. So, that's not an excuse. It's not an excuse for him, but I don't like to see him getting blamed when he doesn't have all the players out there because they didn't do what they were supposed to do."

Saban said the tackles for loss by Wallace Gilberry, the game's defensive MVP, was another key to Alabama's success. Despite allowing Colorado to score twice late in the second quarter and allowing 9 of 16 third down conversions, Alabama made key stops in the third quarter to preserve its lead.

"That's one of the key objectives we have is to get off the field 70% of the time on third down and we didn't do that today and that's why they were able to keep the ball," Saban said.

"What I really feel good about is that seniors can go out with a winning season as winners," Saban said, "and for the young players coming back, the lessons they learned this season as well as getting a bowl win to create the id that we want to create for the future we want to have, winning these types of bowl games is big in their development.

"Two things we wanted to do in this game is never be satisfied and play for 60 minutes in a game, but also never get frustrated and be able to overcome adversity. I think that's one of the things our players did well in the game and that's why we were able to make the plays that we needed to make."

Asked if his team was where he wanted it to be, Saban said "No, we wanted to win every game we played so we're obviously not where we want to be. We've got a lot to learn, we've got a lot to grow from. We've got to continue to learn how to do things right.

"We've had some major disappointments," he said, "and most of those were created by us, and the things that we did or didn't do on or off the field. I think there's a lot of lessons to be learned… that doing things right is going to help us be more successful in the future."

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