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John Parker Wilson eludes Tennessee defender Xavier Mitchell on a day in which Wilson threw for a career-high 363 yards and three touchdowns.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
John Parker Wilson eludes Tennessee defender Xavier Mitchell on a day in which Wilson threw for a career-high 363 yards and three touchdowns.

Wilson + Hall = Tide win
Passing combo soaks in good feeling from record-setting game

By Josh Cooper · 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — In Alabama’s postgame interview room beneath Bryant-Denny Stadium’s stands, quarterback John Parker Wilson stood only about 10 feet from receiver DJ Hall.

Both stood on the stage, and reporters surrounded them. And both seemed unusually calm and collected as they rattled off comments following their record-breaking games in a 41-17 drubbing of Tennessee on Saturday.

Wilson shredded the Vols’ defense, completing 32 of 46 passes for career-high 363 yards and three touchdowns. Hall, his primary target, set career highs with 13 catches for 185 yards. Wilson’s 32 completions tied an Alabama record, and Hall’s 13 receptions broke one.

“It just shows the confidence that (John Parker) has in me,” Hall said. “He played great. Today was one of the best games he’s had since I’ve been here.”

Against an inconsistent UT defense, Wilson continued the stellar play he showed the previous week at Ole Miss.

In a win over the Rebels, he completed 26 of 40 for 265 yards, and afterward, Tide coach Nick Saban called it Wilson’s best performance all season.

“I think that we developed a little confidence in the last couple weeks in our passing game,” Saban said after the win over Tennessee. “John Parker is really playing well and making good decisions, getting the ball out of his hand quickly.

“We got some pressure in the first half but for the most part we had good protection. Receivers were doing a good job of getting open and catching the ball.”

According to Tide wide receiver Matt Caddell, Alabama (6-2, 4-1 SEC) had a lot of success on first down with its passing game.

And when the Vols (4-3, 2-2) changed their game plan to respect the pass on first down, it opened up other parts of the Tide’s offense.

“We threw the ball on first and second down,” said Caddell, who had four catches for 58 yards. “They knew that we could throw the ball on first and second down, and that changed the game plan for them.”

Tennessee’s changes in coverage had a big effect on Hall’s day.

With four games left in the regular season, Hall is alone atop the Alabama record books for career yards and receptions.

On Saturday, the Crimson Tide moved him all over the field in order to get its best possible matchup.

“They weren’t covering him. They started off playing zone, and then they tried to put two on him for a little bit and they didn’t do that for long,” Wilson said. “I don’t know what they were doing.

“They put two guys on him for a series or two, and that was it. We did a lot of things with him to try and get him the ball, and he was just getting open.”

The Crimson Tide doesn’t play again until Nov. 3 at home against LSU.

That one matches the two leading teams in the SEC Western Division. After that, Alabama will face Mississippi State, Louisiana-Monroe and rival Auburn.

Even with the recent offensive explosion, the Tide seems ready for a few days of rest. It’s just hoping it won’t stop the recent point flow.

“I think it will be good for us,” Wilson said.

“We’ve played hard so far — we can’t let this negatively affect us.”

Alabama Monday Playback

Three points Alabama should remember after its 41-17 win over Tennessee.

Get some rest and relaxation: The off-week couldn’t come at a better time. Go home and see your high school team play. Visit family and friends, and get ready for the stretch run.

Control your destiny: If you win all your remaining games, you are the SEC West champs. Nothing hinges on what other teams do. As long as you take care of business, you’ll be in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.

Monitor the situation: Who knows what this textbook scandal will bring? The five suspensions could be the final say or the tip of the iceberg. You don’t want to lose any more players to this.

Josh Cooper

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