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Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson ended Saturday’s game on the ground after getting sacked.
AP photo by Rogelio V. Solis
Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson ended Saturday’s game on the ground after getting sacked.

Alabama’s Wilson looking for consistency

By Josh Cooper · 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — Two weeks, two big turnovers and two big losses.

That is Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson’s stat line following the Crimson Tide’s second straight loss to Mississippi State.

A week earlier against LSU, his late fumble set up the Tigers’ game-winning touchdown. Against Mississippi State in a 17-12 loss, Wilson gave the Bulldogs something far more important: momentum.

His interception at the end of the first half led to Mississippi State’s 100-yard interception return and a 10-9 lead.

And it continued a puzzling trend of inconsistency for Wilson, a second-year starter.

“You think he doesn’t feel bad about (the interceptions)?” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “I bet you he feels worse about it than anybody that roots for Alabama. Anybody that writes for Alabama. Anybody that coaches for Alabama.

“I’ll bet you he feels worse about it than anybody. So, we support him, pat him on the back.”

Three weeks ago, Wilson and the Crimson Tide offense had little trouble moving the ball consistently. In a win over Tennessee, Wilson set a career high in passing yards with 363.

Along the way, he looked like he had absorbed the first-year coaching staff’s offense and was ready to sail.

Only weeks earlier, Wilson was answering questions about inconsistent play, and Saban was fielding queries about backup Greg McElroy.

A quarterback controversy might not be brewing, but Wilson is once again feeling heat.

“I’m not going to lose my confidence just because I throw a couple of interceptions,” said Wilson who completed 16 of 34 passes for 121 yards and two interceptions against the Bulldogs.

“That’s not like me. I’ve never done it before. We just couldn’t get things done; I don’t know what it is. We never really got going, never got moving. It wasn’t a good day.”

It’s not all on Wilson’s shoulders. Alabama has seen a sharp decline in its running game the past two weeks as well. Glen Coffee was Alabama’s second leading rusher when he was suspended three games ago as part of the Tide’s investigation into an improper receipt of textbooks.

Coffee’s size — 6-foot-2, 197 pounds — made him a good pass blocker when the opposing teams blitzed. That helped give Wilson more time to find open receivers.

On Saturday, Alabama’s running back tandem of Grant and Jonathan Lowe averaged 5-81/2 and 186 pounds. Roy Upchurch, who usually is part of the Tide’s rotation, played little because of an undisclosed injury.

“It’s tough when you can’t get balance,” Wilson said. “When they know you’ve got to throw the ball, it’s tough to get (the ball) in there. They’ve got so many guys back there. But if that’s going to be how it is, we’ve got to adapt to it and be able to throw no matter what.”

LSU and Mississippi State also used different coverages against leading wide receiver DJ Hall to prevent him from making big plays. In his past two games, Hall has caught seven passes. Against the Vols, he grabbed 13.

Still, Wilson wasn’t making excuses, and with two games left, he said he thinks he has time to get back on a hot streak.

“We’ve just got to look at the tape and learn from it,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of stuff to learn from. We’ve still got games left.”

Alabama Monday playback

Three points Alabama should remember from its 17-12 loss to Mississippi State:

Remember the Iron Bowl: Well, think of it this way:If you beat Auburn, then your season is saved, and you might be able to sneak into the Cotton Bowl. At worst, you would go to the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. If you lose, get ready for Christmas in Memphis (Liberty Bowl), Nashville (Music City Bowl) or — gasp — Shreveport (Independence Bowl).

Scheme differently: Now might be time to get creative. With a running game in shambles, you should try a few more trick plays to get your offense going.

MSU is good: This Mississippi State team is not that bad. The Bulldogs beat Auburn and Kentucky on the road this year. Losing to them is no reason to hold your head down.

Josh Cooper

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