Offensive Coordinator Kevin Wilson:
On the decision to name Thompson the starter
As coaches we got together last summer and went through some scenarios, some what if's, especially after Ryan Reynolds went down or just a cut, was running around and plants and he's out for six or seven months. So what do we do in our QB situation? If there's a minor glitch, a sore shoulder, a cramp or if a guy went down. So we had some alternative plans. Joey had 15 practices and 15 days where Paul had four years of experience here.
You go through the history of Paul, he's really been our number two guy throughout his time here. We went through a situation last year where we were trying to separate two guys, through spring and all, there wasn't much separation. He came to me after the decision was made and said he still felt like he was the number two guy. The only time in his career he hasn't been a number two guy was last year, when he was a receiver last spring. But when the situation changed, we had it in mind that if it did that he would be our guy.
So now he's our guy, to me, to Coach Stoops and to all our players. So now we can go through the year knowing that he's our guy. What can we do now to make him comfortable? What can I, Coach Heupel, Coach Sumlin do? Again, we aren't going to become a running team because he's an athlete and just run with him and Adrian, with the quarterback run game. We're going to have to throw the ball to win a championship. We think we have a great chance to be a championship team, and we're going to have to throw the ball down the field and throw it effectively. So we have to find out what he's efficient at and can we go in a direction where we can hit the field early with some cohesion and have a chance to start fast as an offense.
On pressure on Thompson to perform
I told him the other day, ‘you can go 0-18, throw them all in the dirt and you're still my guy.' He's my guy. Again, yesterday we were hoping to see him do well and he really did. We were very pleased.
On the amount of time the team has to prepare for the season, considering the changes
With the NCAA now changing the rules and spreading preseason out like they have, it gives us plenty of time where we don't have to rush. It gives us plenty of classroom time and a lot of days for him and us as coaches to get comfortable and see where we are. I really like the fact that, where a few years ago, we have Jason White blow a knee out in the first quarter of the second game we'd have had a week to get ready.
Now we have a whole preseason to get ready so it's not the situation that we had or expected, but we have ample to time to get ready to play at a high level early. Our goal was to come out quick, offensively, and come out productive and start fast so that we get to conference play and can be a competitive, upper level team and make a championship run.
We do not need to go to the first game, searching and feeling and finding ourselves. One of the reasons we chose Paul as our guy was so we could get out to a faster start in those first few weeks.
On his offensive philosophy
I don't know if I'm a great coach or what not, but I play to my players' strengths. Everyone talks about the Northwestern spread, it was put in because we didn't have tight ends and fullbacks – period. Unfortunately, the dear friend of mine that passed away, struggled in going to that formation. He wanted a fullback and wanted to be in the ‘I', we did not have it. We had to adapt and adjust.
Ever since I've been here, all the ‘I' plays have been put in since I've been here. That's something we changed, we were different with Quentin Griffin than we were with Jason White. We've always adapted. Last year we didn't have a clear-cut QB and it took us until about the third of fourth game to get in-sync. Unfortunately, last year, no QB separated and we were out of sync finding ourselves and in hindsight took us longer than we'd like to get moving.
On Thompson's practice yesterday
He didn't look like a guy that hadn't played QB in a while. He went the right way when it wasn't there, he had no turnovers, no picks. There were a couple times where he would think he had a slant or a hitch and would misread it but really good for Day 1. Throwing the football he was crisp and on target, and for that I was really impressed.
On Thompson's play at WR helping him at QB
It will help him a lot. It helps him with timing and understanding about placing, like when you get hung out to dry by that quarterback. I think there's an appreciation of that now more than ever.
On his message to Thompson and how to manage a game
I've always said he's the first guy on the football field that can beat your football team. We told Paul that he doesn't need to put this team on his shoulders. We have a tremendous team, a great defense, talent on offense and it's his job to get in sync with us and manage the players around him. And yesterday, Day 1, he was a very solid manager.
Did he make some mistakes? Yes, but he didn't have critical errors that would have haunted us as we get into game mode. And that, to me, would have been critical because that guy is the first that gets you beat because the ball is in his hands every play. It's the guys around you that you are supposed to play to their strengths, what they can do.
I told him, ‘We don't need you to win us games.' I've been raised in coaching that the team can win the game, just see what the defense is giving you. Sometimes the nicest pass is an incomplete one because you got blocked by coverage, the spacing wasn't there, the route got clustered, the protection wasn't there. Sometimes not forcing the football is the critical play so there's very little that I said to him or will say to him that will be any different than any QB that I have or will ever deal with. That guy to me has to be an extension of coach Stoops, of me and the offensive staff.
On the progression of offense
I'm waiting to see, come two-a-days, who can we count on? Who can block? Can the tight ends or fullbacks catch? And that hasn't changed. We did the same things yesterday that we would have done regardless, with that guy doing them. Fortunately for us, the situation happened for us four weeks before our first game and nine weeks before our first conference game.
On teams loading up to stop Adrian Peterson
Everybody is going to try to stop the run, not on us, on everybody. You have to have your defense be able to stop the run in order to be a championship team – that's college football for the last 10 or 12 years. The only team I've seen not load the box in that time was when Miami was rolling there, when they had that front seven and played a true 4-3. Everybody else is dropping safeties and has corner support in there to stop the run.
So it's going to happen and it's happened up to now and it will after he's gone. But sometimes you have to run with an attitude regardless, there's an approach to rushing the football at the same time when that box is loaded. A quarterback run or a sprint out isn't the answer either. You still have to take advantage of what the defense is giving you with the spacing if you want to be a championship team. But I'm going to feed him that ball as much as I can.
On the loss of J.D. Runnels
That, to me, is my biggest concern. The inexperience of Matt Clapp and Dane Zaslaw, can we still line up in that I formation? It's a bigger concern than the offensive line. Can we still be a two-back team? We'll go through camp and see.
What you might find us doing is expanding some of the tight ends' roles and putting them back there, Brody Eldridge, Jermaine Gresham, Joe Jon Finley. But we'll have to get some pads on and see the maturity of those guys.
On the loss of J.D. Quinn
J.D. Quinn was going to be 50/50 a starter. He played some for us as a freshman, he was going to be a backup center. Jon Cooper is looking good for us though, he is coming back from a significant injury but quite honestly that is a bigger concern for depth. He was a guy that had a good chance to start and if not start, be a major contributor and contributing in that center capacity, to give us some good depth there.
On the freshmen talent
That's an extremely talented class of offensive guys, a very talented offensive class. Don't be surprised to see those freshmen wide receivers contribute this year. The two freshmen receivers could help out and be significant contributors. We've got some good young ones and those two are going to step right in and not be behind them.
Media Day Quotebook: Wilson talks offense
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