Alabama Football: Is the Third Offense the Charm for John Parker Wilson?

Nic GulasSenior Analyst IJune 21, 2008

An experienced quarterback at Alabama has become commonplace in the past decade or so.

Tyler Watts enjoyed shared playing time with Andrew Zow for two years before having his senior season to himself. 

Brodie Croyle was the starter for two years and fell victim to injuries both years before staying healthy and leading a strong 2005 team in his senior year. 

Now it is John Parker Wilson's turn.  For two years, Wilson has led a different offense under a different coach and different coordinator with the same result. 

2006: head coach Mike Shula, offensive coordinator Dave Rader, 6-6 regular season

2007: head coach Nick Saban, offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, 6-6 regular season.

Wilson now has some consistency with no head coaching change, but he once again has a new offensive coordinator in former Fresno St. offensive coordinator Jim McElwain.  He also has a reputation to uphold in this new century of Alabama Football.

Watts and Croyle both led their respective Alabama teams to a 10-win season in their final go-around.  

In previous years, Alabama fans have expected a lot from Wilson, especially based on his performance as a quarterback in high school at nearby Hoover High. 

Wilson won multiple State titles as the leader of the Bucs, and many Bama fans expected that same success from him at Alabama. 

In two years as a starter, that success hasn't been seen, as Wilson has posted a 14-14 record. 

The personal success, however, has been there, with Wilson holding or on pace to set every quarterback record in Alabama history.   He could potentially be the first Tide QB to pass for 3,000 yards in a season this year if his numbers continue to progress. 

All of that is a lot for Wilson to live up to, but he may finally be in his element with his third offense in as many years. 

So will this new offense, which is supposed to be quarterback friendly and more simplistic, be the thing to allow Wilson to combine personal and team success?

If the spring is any indication of this season, the answer is a resounding yes. 

At Fresno State last season, McElwain improved the offense not only in numbers, but also in completion percentage by an impressive seven points, rising the Bulldogs from 89th to 21st in passing efficiency in the FBS. 

For Wilson, that led to an impressive spring game.  Sure, he finished with just a 50-percent completion percentage, but a closer look at the numbers reveals Wilson finishing the day 16-27 after a 1-7 start.

In other words, once Wilson settled in with the new offense, he was at a 60-percent completion rate, five points higher than his 2007 average. 

Not only was his average higher, but the comfort in the offense was much more prominent.  Wilson used more short, quick passes for his success instead of the long out routes or sideline fly patterns which don't suit his style nor the style of a McElwain offense. 

In an offense which compliments his arm strength, Wilson should excel in his newest offense.  However, if Wilson wants to match the senior success of Watts and Croyle, a few more than six wins will be necessary.