"I have been hearing in from them," Thompson says of the Georgia fans in Statesboro. "How they're going to whip us. You know how it is. You just have to go out there and try harder."
The third-ranked Tigers will enter Saturday's 2:30 p.m. CBS nationally televised game well rested after having their first off date of the season last week. With nine straight wins coming into the week many would assume they would like to keep the momentum, but Thompson says the week was needed for the team to be able to function in the biggest games of the season coming up against Georgia, Alabama and in the SEC Championship game.
"After those nine games my legs were gone, I know that," Thompson says. "I know a lot of the guys were, too. It's just a whole different feeling going out there and having your legs and being able to run around. Some of the guys that were hurt got a little better, too. It gave us a good break that we needed."
A 6-1, 296 redshirt freshman, Thompson has been solid this season as a backup to starter Tommy Jackson. With 19 total tackles, he has been in on his share of plays this season, but this week the job will be made tougher by a physical Georgia offensive line. Anchored by 6-4, 340 tackle Max Jean-Gilles, the Bulldog front paves the way for an offense that averages 432.1 yards and 31.8 points per game.
"They are huge up front," Thompson says. "Their backs are good and they're real quick. You know about the quarterback (David Greene), everybody knows about him."
One key for the Tigers this season has been getting off to a quick start. In wins over Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, Arkansas and Kentucky the Tigers had the game virtually wrapped up by halftime. That quick start would be very important this week against a Georgia team that is capable of beating you with both the run and the pass. Thompson says that's a goal for the defense this week and the Tigers hope to give the ball to the offense in position to get the early lead.
"It's going to be very important," Thompson says. "We just need to get in there and do what we do every week. We need some three and outs to give our offense chances to score. The more they're on the field the less we are and it's more opportunities for us to score."
With ESPN's College Gameday in town this weekend as well as several national outlets on hand for the SEC game of the year, the atmosphere will likely reach a fever pitch long before the kickoff on Saturday. Thompson says that the Tigers have been focused on this game since last week and will be ready to go Saturday.
"It's going to be a real big game," Thompson says. "It's going to be different for me because you know how it is playing in Georgia, it's a big game always. I'm just looking forward to it. They're a real tough team and they're going to be a real good team coming in here. We're just going to focus on it and do what we can do.
"I think the biggest thing right now is everybody is excited and ready to go," Thompson adds. "Just like all year, we've played some big games already, we're focused. It's not different from any other game. We just have to keep focused and stay focused. I think we'll be all right."