Can Tide win with Wilson?

Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson has a longer name but a much shorter resume' than predecessor Brodie Croyle. As a result, some observers figure the Tide will experience a significant drop-off at the position this fall.

Folks close to the Crimson Tide program, however, believe Wilson will fill Croyle's shoes quite nicely, even though he has virtually no experience at the collegiate level.

Statistically, there is reason for optimism. Last fall Wilson compiled a better completion percentage (63.6 to 59.6) than Croyle. He also posted a better passer efficiency rating (198.47 to 132.78) and averaged more yards per completion (14.0 to 12.37). The kicker? Wilson threw just 11 passes, so his numbers are seriously skewed.

Still, the 6-3, 213-pound sophomore seems to have earned the confidence of his coaches and teammates, which is a huge step in the development of a college QB.

"I think he's already a leader of this football team," head coach Mike Shula noted at the recent SEC Media Days. "Not just for the offense but for this football team."

Alabama running back Kenneth Darby thinks so, too.

"I think he brings a lot to the team, and will do more than is expected," Darby said. "He has a winning spirit instilled in him; he came from a high school that was used to winning. He brings that spirit to the team, and we feed off that, just as we feed him with the experience we have."

Wilson's arm may not be as strong as Croyle's but his feet probably are a little quicker.

"He's got good arm strength, good touch, good accuracy," Shula said. "We think he's a mobile quarterback. He's not a Vince Young or anything like that, but we think he can make and create plays when he needs to."

Because John Parker Wilson has so little experience, poise is an obvious concern. Completing a pass in the fourth quarter of a tight game against Auburn is a lot tougher than completing a pass in the fourth quarter of a blowout against Utah State.

"Is he going to make some mistakes? Probably," Shula conceded. "Anytime you do something for the first time, you're probably going to make some mistakes. But he's going to make a lot of plays."

The big question: Can he make enough plays to make fans forget Brodie Croyle?

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