Mike Paulus Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Freshman quarterback Mike Paulus enrolled at North Carolina as a highly-touted national recruit this summer, with his goals clearly set on winning the starting QB position in fall training camp. He spoke with the media for the first time following Saturday's scrimmage.

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On his acclimation to college ball:
It's a lot of learning. Just trying to get as much done as I can in a short amount of time. It's been real frustrating – it's a lot of change from high school. It's a big transition, and I'm just trying to work through it and stay positive.

On adjusting to his change in fundamentals:
That's a big part of it, too. I haven't changed my drop – in high school, I just went out of shotgun. And right now, we're all going under center – a lot of it is under center, and that's something I never did. So I had to change all my footwork down. It's a lot different see things that way down the field. So that's a really big adjustment that I'm trying to get over right now, and it's just going to take some time. I'm patient – yeah, I want to get in there and compete, but I don't want to rush the developing process. I want to be the best quarterback that I can be, and I don't want to go out there if I'm not ready to play, so I've still got a lot to learn.

If he's ready to play:
Right now, no, I'm not. I've got a lot of work to do. I've got to clean up my act and polish up a little bit. Like I said, I'm still learning a lot. It's a huge transition. I'm always reading computers – ESPN.com – and all of these freshmen are having a tough time. I thought it would be a breeze, but it really is a tough time from just a college transition to a college offense – it's a lot. I was here in May, and I was able to workout, but [offensive coordinator John] Shoop wasn't around to coach me. So all of the changes being made are being made in six or seven days.

I came in here wanting to compete for the job, and it's tough to do in six or seven days. I think the original plan was two-and-a-half to three weeks – I think I could have gotten a little bit of a jump and learned a lot in that time period, but with deciding in a week or so, it's just very unrealistic for me to go in there and say ‘yeah, I'm going to win the starting job.' That would be arrogant to say that. I'm just working, [and] I'm trying to learn. I know nothing is going to be given to me, so I've got to keep working.

On whether this difficulty has affected his confidence:
No, just a lot of frustration is what it is. All of these changes and transitions – you know, I'm just keeping my mouth shut and learning as much as I can. I really don't talk that much – you can ask Cam or T.J. They always say I'm the quietest quarterback they ever met. I'm trying to learn a lot. Coach is always trying to tell me to show more emotion and stuff like that. And I can't stress enough, it's a big, big transition from high school to college and everyone's got to make the jump and I'm hoping that it's quicker for me than for some others.

If the speed of the secondary is a big difference from high school:
Yeah, definitely – guys close a lot faster in college than in high school. It's a lot different. You've just got to fire it out there – timing was a big thing, and that's something I got during the summertime when I first showed up. It was tough just to complete a ball, because you're learning new steps, new routes, hitches and all that stuff, and you don't require that [in] the high school game. By the second half of summer, I had all of the timing down and the rhythm will all of the routes, so I felt comfortable coming in throwing the ball.

But then there's another half of the game – running is just as hard as throwing. You've got to read defensive fronts, and [linebackers] and the secondary are rotating – all this stuff you don't see in high school. So it's frustrating, but I've got to keep working through and learn it. I'm probably a good couple of weeks to a month or two away from understanding and being ready to play.

On if it's important for him to play this season:
I'm came in my junior year, [and] a big thing I looked at was that I wanted to play right away. Being 17 or 18-years-old – a junior in high school -- with people telling you how good you are, you think you can do it. I didn't realize how big the transition was. To say I can't play this year – I don't know. It depends on how fast I can pick it up.

Time isn't exactly on my side for being the number one quarterback for James Madison, but when I had a visit with Coach Davis a couple of months ago, he said he wanted to use me similar to what he used Ken Dorsey at Miami, where Ken Dorsey took over in his freshman year in his sixth or seventh game and finished it off. I'm not saying that's going to happen or anything like that, but it is a possibility if I keep progressing. I have gotten better every single day – I'm picking it up fast, it's just not a 100 percent there yet. And I think when I do, I'll be ready to play.


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