'Comfortable' is the key word for Thomspon

Listening to Paul Thompson, you get the feeling that is 'comfortable' as he heads into Saturday's season-opener against UAB. After all, the former receiver turned singal-caller only uttered the word 13 times during his 17-minute meeting with media on Tuesday. See inside for excerpts from the Thompson's press conference. (Photo/Lisa Hall)

On if he's curious about how he's going to play

Thompson: I'm definitely excited to get back out there. I know what I can do. Through two-a-days I've definitely jumped back in it pretty quickly compared to where I would've been at this point being in the situations that I was in.

I'm definitely excited to get back out there and I'm looking forward to being able to make plays. I think I'll be able to do that. I'm just ready to go. I'm not really looking forward to seeing how I play. I feel that I'm going to play well and I feel the team will play well.

On if he curious on how well he's going to play having just switched from receiver

Thompson: Jumping back into the position as quick as I did and going through two-a-days as a starter and entering the first game as a starter, I guess you could say I am curious to see not only how I'm going to do, but just as a team in general how well we're going to do, how successful we're going to be as an offense.

On if he will have a different mindset going into this game knowing he won't have to split time with another quarterback

Thompson: Definitely, I'm much more relaxed. I'll take a lot less pressure off myself. The pressure from the outside doesn't bother me as much, but when you're in the race I was last year, when you make throws and make reads you have to do it and be perfect on it. If you don't, you definitely put more pressure on yourself.

This year, I'm a lot more relaxed. I feel a lot more comfortable out there and I know if I make a mistake I can kinda put it off easier and go on to the next play.

On his emotions last year when he got pulled from the TCU game

Thompson: It was different because I wasn't sure where we were going, as far as the situation last year with playing us both. I didn't know if that's what they were planning to do the entire year or just that game.

I wasn't really sure after that game what their decision was going to be. And when they made their decision and it was up to me (to stay at quarterback or move to receiver), I was like I need to go play some receiver.

On if he was upset with the decision

Thompson: Yeah, definitely. I was upset, but you can only understand the situation and where they're going with this team. The decision that they made, I don't have any hard feelings or anything like that.

On if he thinks he's a better quarterback today than he was at the same time last year

Thompson: Probably so. I'm definitely comfortable. I feel more comfortable than I did last year. I'm more relaxed. I don't know if that's because of the situation I'm in with being the guy. It's my senior year. I'm going all out, not to say I haven't before, but this is pretty much my last go-around here.

I'm not holding anything back. I'm not worried about what everyone else has to say, I'm just focused on me and this team. I think we're going to be real successful.

On if he's comfortable with what UAB's defense is going to throw him after watching film

Thompson: Yeah, definitely. Coach 'Hype' (Josh Heupel) has done a good job, especially with my schedule. I have a lot more time to watch film. From the end of two-a-days until now, I've been in the film room every day for hours during practice or after practice, as well as before.

I feel real comfortable with what they're bringing. The coaches have done a really good job of preparing us.

On what aspect of the offense he likes the best

Thompson: I enjoy booting out and getting outside of the pocket on a lot of pass plays, as well as dropping back in the quick game. I definitely enjoy getting around on the edge and being able to make plays running the ball, as well as throwing on the run.

On the difference between working with Chuck Long and Kevin Wilson

Thompson: Probably just relaying back and forth. I did much of the same with coach Long, but the things that coach Wilson is implements is me relaying things back and forth to him, as far as what I like.

Again, now that I have more time with my class schedule I meet with the offensive coaches during their time and go through the plays that I enjoy and the plays that I feel comfortable with. It's more of a two-way street than it has been in the past, and I feel like they're tailoring things more towards me as well as the offense and what we do well.

On his class schedule allowing him more time to meet with the coaches

Thompson: The past couple of years with my class schedule and other things, I haven't been able to have that much free time. So with my schedule now there is more free time so I do sit in with the coaches and meet, as well as our regular meeting times.

On if he was trying to fill Jason White's role in the offense last year

Thompson: Actually, last year the offense had changed a little bit after Jason had left to suit me and Rhett. It was more tailored than it had been in the past, but I feel like my word has a bigger effect on where this offense goes and the direction we go this year.

On the practices being closed to install new offensive plays, and what can the fans expect to see different on Saturday

Thompson: As far as play-calling, coach Wilson is a real aggressive coach. We definitely have some different wrinkles in there.

But again, things are pretty similar from what we had done during the spring. We haven't changed too much from them, but there are definitely some different wrinkles.

Again, I've gone in and talked with the coaches and let them know the things I like. We've put in some new things that fit me better and we're moving from there.

On how his emotions will be different before the game on Saturday compared to last year

Thompson: It's actually pretty much the same, as far as just having the question of where I stand as a quarterback. I definitely was going into that game real confident. I felt good and really wasn't too worried or too nervous.

I was just real anxious to get out there and play. And that's a lot of how I feel this year. I definitely feel real comfortable, even with the short amount of time that I've been at the position again. I feel real comfortable, I have a lot of experience at quarterback and a lot of it has come back real naturally.

On UAB's defense

Thompson: Real strong up front. They've got some returners, and they're not afraid to man us up outside and make us beat them one-on-one. So we're going to try and take advantage of that. But they have a lot of great returners coming back and some good size up front.

On how much it's helped him that he's playing against the best defense he'll see all year in practice

Thompson: That's a big help. And not only facing them, but them facing us every day. We're not only going against a great defense, we're going against a defense that's seen us every day and knows what we like to do.

That's definitely an advantage for us as an offense — knowing that these guys that we're going against every day is going to be one of the top defenses in the country. So when we're successful against that, it kind of energizes us and gets us going to know that if we can face them we can face a lot of teams in this country.

On how much will it help to have more experienced receivers

Thompson: The freshmen that we had when they were true freshmen, they were great athletes then. And now with another year of summer conditioning, going through spring learning the offense, learning the routes, learning how to adjust, that's just even more of an advantage for us.

Even going through two-a-days, I feel real comfortable throwing it out there for them. They've made big plays going up and making great catches from two-a-days up until now, and they're going to continue to do that.

On what Reggie Smith brings to the table as a receiver

Thompson: Just some more depth at receiver. A great athlete. He picks it up real quickly.

I didn't even know he had been studying as much as he had, because the first day of practice I'm calling plays in the huddle and he's jumping out there and running the routes. He's definitely learning real quick.

As you can see, he's just a great athlete. He hasn't dropped too many of the passes that have been thrown his way either. He's just real natural out there, looks real confident and is definitely going to help us.

On the importance of not just winning, but doing it impressively against UAB to gain some early confidence

Thompson: That's real big. I think any team wants to come out and start the season real strong. It definitely brings confidence and helps the team get motivated and get rolling throughout the next couple of games. It's definitely big.

You don't just want to have a first win, but you want to start the first drive, the first quarter — you want to start those off strong as well. That momentum and that energy just builds on and just carries you throughout a season.

On how missing the first pass of the game last year TCU effected him

Thompson: After that play, I really was relaxed. People have missed big plays in the past and moved on. I really didn't let that bother me. I don't know if it looked as if it did, but it didn't.

Again, plays like that, if it were to happen Saturday, you just move on from them. I really don't let them effect me. In the past I might have let bad plays effect me as far as future plays. But I've matured, I've grown, I'm easy to bounce back so it's not going to effect me as much.

On where he thinks his future is after this season

Thompson: I'd say receiver.

On if it concerns him that he's giving up a year of experience and development at receiver for a position he won't play after this season

Thompson: When I made the decision to come back to quarterback, there were a lot of things I was taking into consideration. And after talking to with my family, coaches, being on the field and showing your athleticism will work out best in the end.

I think after weighing both positions — where would I be able to have the ball in my hand most, make plays and be a playmaker? I felt that was at the quarterback position.

On how big of a day will it be in the Thompson household on Saturday

Thompson: There's a lot of people that will be here, actually (smiles). So the house will be empty and everyone will be right out there in the stadium.

I've got a lot of friends and family coming to the game, as well as there will be some at home. But they're real supportive of me and looking forward to it.

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