First off, if you don't already have tickets for the game this Saturday in Starkville, head on over to tickco.com's Alabama section or Mississippi State section to purchase your tickets. The Tide needs a lot of support this weekend after a heartbreaker last weekend. We've still got a shot at a good season, so make sure you get your tickets to cheer on the team!
On to today's topic.
John Parker Wilson's new name is "fumbles."
Seriously. We'll use today's blog to point out his fumbles over the past two seasons that have really been a key component in costing us ballgames. We won't go over interceptions at key points in the game - just fumbles. Now, let me make this clear - this past Saturday can't be blamed solely on John Parker. He also did a lot of things to help keep us in the game to begin with, so this is not a complete low-blow to this kid, but at the same time, it's a reminder of this simple statement that I hope won't get a lot of flack for me.
Winners win. Losers lose.
That's all there is to it. There is a mindset in Tuscaloosa that Nick Saban is working on changing. He's been able to get these kids to play above their heads for a good portion of this season, but he's absolutely going to have to get better players in here to be able to compete with the LSUs and Floridas of the SEC. Period.
Anyway, on to the fumbles...
Arkansas 24 Alabama 23 - Sept. 23rd, 2006
On third-and-12 with 4:21 to go in the 3rd quarter, Alabama had the football on Arkansas's 47 yard line with a 10-9 lead. At the least, we won't get the first down, but we can pin Arkansas deep in their own territory with a good punt. We still would have the advantage as far as field position goes, and our defense had been playing lights out up to this point.
John Parker drops back in a 5-step drop. Rather than tucking the ball once he sees that the offensive line has collapsed, he's still looking to try and make a play. Sure, you can call that a good thing, but when the pocket has collapsed, only bad things can happen when you don't cover the football - as evidence by him fumbling the football and giving Arkansas a cheap touchdown and 2 point conversion, which also gave them a 17-10 lead in a game that we had dominated to that point. I should also mention that it was Arkansas's first turnover of the season.
Auburn 22 Alabama 15 - Nov 19, 2006
John Parker had a couple of miscues in this game. You can't blame it solely on him, because Chris Capps looked like he should've been a 2nd teamer on a junior college team against Quinten Groves, but regardless, you've got to protect the football. Fumbling like that is just ridiculous.
The first came in the 2nd quarter with 13:36 left. Bama was facing a 3rd-and-6 from their own 35 yard line, leading the game 3-0. Momentum was CLEARLY in our favor at this point, but Capps allowed Groves around on the blindside, leading to a clothesline tackle and a fumble that Auburn recovered at the 30 yard line. They scored just a few plays later to take the lead 7-0.
Then, on Bama's ensuing possession, the exact same play happened. On 2nd-and-16 from their own 13, John Parker dropped back, again 5 steps, while Capps allowed Groves around on the blindside. Groves hit JPW from the backside, causing him to drop the football. Now, this one could have been avoided had he been able to feel the pressure coming. Again, once the pocket collapses, you either have to get rid of the football immediately, or tuck and protect the football. One way or another.
Florida State 21 Alabama 14 - Sept 22, 2007
Alabama is still not a good enough football team to turn the ball over and still expect to win a game. Against anybody, really. The defense had held serve for most of the game, other than an opening drive in the 3rd quarter that gave Florida State the lead. We were still in the game, and had a chance to take the ball down the field to tie it up with less than 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter.
Florida State pretty much owned the field position battle all day, so they had us pinned pretty deep in our own territory on JP's mishap in this game. On 3rd-and-15 from our own 8, with 9:20 left, John Parker was in the shotgun. He caught the snap, saw the pocket collapsing from a simple 3-man rush, and, while trying to get out of the pocket to make a throw, got hit from behind and lost the football on our own 2 yard line. When trying to get out of a collapsing pocket, YOU MUST PROTECT THE FOOTBALL. I don't know how many times I can say it.
LSU 41 Alabama 34November 3rd, 2007
Ahh yes - the most recent one. LSU comes to Tuscaloosa to battle us for the SEC Western Division lead.
Remember, we're not blaming everything on John Parker Wilson. His mistake was just a slew of big mistakes made in the game. We could have won had we stopped LSU from throwing to THE MOST OBVIOUS TARGET ON THE FIELD on 4th-and-4 with 2:30 left, while we were still up by a touchdown.
Regardless, it came down to a play by John Parker Wilson in the final 2 minutes of the game. And yes, while he has been heroic in some games this year (Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee come to mind), he has also been a big reason why we've lost 3 games this year.
So, with the game tied at 34, Alabama has the football at their own 29 yard line, facing a 3rd-and-12 with 1:50 left on the clock. John Parker is in the shotgun formation, facing a VERY obvious blitz package, which means that you have just a second or two to find an open receiver on a quick slant across the middle, and get rid of the football before being blasted by a safety or linebacker. He takes the snap, watches LSU break through the offensive line, takes his 5 step drop, then gets happy feet, tries to dodge the blitz, doesn't protect the football, gets sacked and loses the ball on his own 2 yard line.
Once again, even if you're about to get sacked: PROTECT THE FOOTBALL.
So there you have it. We'll worry about Mississippi State tomorrow. Today was just a reminder to all Alabama fans that have expectations through the roof. The game of football is about the players. Players are either champions who make plays that can win ballgames, or they're losers who find ways to lose games when it matters the most.