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November 13, 2006

Iron Bowl QBs relying on short memories

John Parker Wilson drew a blank when asked after the LSU game what happened on a key interception.

The Alabama quarterback long ago moved on to the next play, the next series, the next game. No sense dwelling on bad plays, or good ones, he figures.

``I have a really short memory,'' Wilson said. ''I think that's important.''

It's especially important for Wilson and Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox entering Saturday's Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa.

Wilson and Cox each had costly turnovers in last week's losses. Wilson would like to forget two plays from an otherwise strong performance in the 28-14 loss at LSU. Cox would like to wipe away the entire game against Georgia, when the normally reliable quarterback completed as many passes to the opposition in a 37-15 loss.

They're each adopting similar attitudes to avoid those mistakes carrying over into the Iron Bowl.

''That's part of the position,'' Cox said. ''You've got to just put it behind you.''

Cox passed for just 35 yards in easily his worst game at Auburn. Of his 12 passes, four were completed and four were intercepted.

His struggles didn't start against Georgia, though.

Cox has threw six interceptions in a 19-game stretch after getting picked off four times in his starting debut against Georgia Tech last season. He's thrown seven interceptions in his last three games.

''This one was worse than Georgia Tech, but you can compare it a lot to that one,'' said Cox, who still passed for 342 yards in that game. ''Everybody's been telling me everybody has a bad day, and that one was definitely one of my bad days.''

He took a hit on his sore right knee on Auburn's first offensive play. It might not have affected his throwing arm, but it didn't exactly soothe his psyche.

''Every time I get hit on it, it swells up and tightens up on me,'' Cox said. ''I was wanting to not get hit on it all game, and the first play of the game I got hit on it. I kind of got frustrated after that. It was hurting, but I don't want to say it affected my throwing.''

Despite his two costly mistakes against LSU, Wilson passed for a career-high 291 yards and two touchdowns. The interception by Chevis Jackson came on third-and-10 from the LSU 23 in the third quarter, after LSU had scored to take a two-touchdown lead.

But coach Mike Shula, a former quarterback, likes how Wilson handles his mistakes.

''That stuff doesn't bother him,'' Shula said. ''He's not going to be one that's going to sit there and argue about this and that.

''He says, 'You're right. I've got to do it better and I'll do it better next time.' That's what makes it so easy to coach him and so fun to coach him.''

Likewise, Auburn's Tommy Tuberville said his confidence in Cox has not wavered.

''He'll be fine. There's no better competitor on this team than Brandon,'' Tuberville said. ''He's tough physically and mentally. If he could run, I'd play him on defense.''



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