Thompson ready for first scrimmage

Oklahoma quarterback Paul Thompson talks about his adjustment from receiver to quarterback, the improved play of the receivers and tight ends and tonight's scrimmage. The scrimmage will begin at 6 p.m. inside Memorial Stadium. (Photo/Lisa Hall)

The Oklahoma Sooners will hold their first scrimmage of training camp Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. It will be the first action for senior quarterback Paul Thompson at quarterback in front of a crowd since returning to the position from wide receiver.

By all accounts Thompson has done well in camp thus far, but scrimmages always tell a little bit more about a player and a team. Thompson seemed relaxed after Friday's practice and enjoyed talking to for the Two Minute Drill.

JH: Do you have some lead options in the offense to take advantage of those hard-charging defensive ends that love to crash down on you?

PT: "Yes. we do. That is definitely going to help the offense, and definitely the quarterback. Those guys are coming down to really stop AD and we will be looking for teams will do that because we have some plays for them."

JH: How are your receivers coming along?

PT: "I worked with them a little bit last year when I was at quarterback and they have progressed a lot since then. They have become real knowledgeable of the game and they have learned how to convert routes. They are doing a great job."

JH: The tight ends are all bigger and stronger now, so that will surely help you on the edge?

PT: "It is big. Any time you have almost an extra lineman out there, it is definitely going to help you. That is especially true on sweeps and things of that nature when we have a big guy out there as well. That is also going to help us in the red zone where we can toss the ball up to our big guys as well as our receivers. Their size is definitely going to help us."

JH: A lot of times in the red zone it is a matter of finding a space or a hole where they can quickly turn around and receive your pass. Have the tight ends showed you that they have that knack in the red zone?

PT: "They have done that in practice. It was two or three practices ago me and Joey (Halzle) just kind of lobbed it up there and they went up and made a play on it. I know we are going to be able to use that to our advantage. I don't know many corners or defensive backs that are going to be able to stop that."

JH: How big of a weapon can Jermaine Gresham become at 6-foot-7?

PT: "He is going to be a big weapon. Then to have him in there on our deuce set with two tight ends, that is going to create more of a hassle for the defense. They both (Joe Jon and Gresham) have great hands, great size and they are able to block real well."

JH: I keep hearing that the defense is playing great. If the defense is doing great then how is the offense doing?

PT: "We are playing pretty good. I always say that the defense starts off a little bit ahead, because they are reacting more and don't have to be in sync as much as the offense does. But the defense has made some great plays. The offense, including today, has definitely made some big strides. We are looking real good out there."

JH: Is it tough being in the spotlight as the starting quarterback at Oklahoma. Are you more prepared for this since you are now a senior and have been a quarterback before?

PT: "I am definitely prepared and I have always felt comfortable talking to you guys (media). I am definitely prepared. Going back to the days it was me, Jason (White), Brent (Rawls) and Noah (Allen) there was always a lot of media around. Then I redshirted, but it seems like every year that has been something about me that you guys want to know about. It is definitely something that I am used to. I am comfortable with it."

JH: Yeah, but you haven't always had the security guard with you to take you away from us if the interview goes too long like you do now?

PT: "I haven't had that too much (chuckling). But I have been used to seeing you guys."

JH: Allen Patrick and others have always talked about how you bring extra leadership now to the team. But you have always been a leader, so are you now grabbing guys by the facemask and getting after guys? Are you showing more aggression or anger when things aren't going well?

PT: "No, not really. I don't think I am doing anything extra. I think they feel more of my presence now at quarterback. I was still a leader at the receiver position, but when I am on the side of the huddle it is different than when you are in the center and in the command of the huddle. Everybody is looking at me. I just feel that more. I am a year older and I just feel comfortable out there."

JH: Are you looking forward to the scrimmage?

PT: "Absolutely. This will give the offense a chance to gauge our progress against a great defense, and it is always exciting to get out and play in our great stadium and in front of our great fans. We still have a lot of things to work on in this training camp and it will be good to get into a live environment and see where we are at."

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