Friday, August 26, 2005

Sooner or later

Sooner or later

From the Associated Press.

Thompson named OU starting QB.
NORMAN, Okla. -- Paul Thompson tried not to dream or even think about himself winning the starting quarterback's job at Oklahoma.

With only one scrimmage left to decide whether it would be him or Rhett Bomar that started in the season opener, that notion became impossible to ignore.

"The day before our last scrimmage, I started thinking about it," Thompson said. "But before that, I tried to not think about that too much, just focus on myself and improving this team."

On Thursday, all the dreams Thompson had been restraining finally came true. Coach Bob Stoops announced that Thompson would be the successor to Heisman Trophy winner Jason White for the Sooners.

"We felt as a staff we're going to start Paul Thompson," Stoops said. "We feel that he has earned it to this point."

Thompson, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, bided his time behind Nate Hybl and White to earn the spot as Oklahoma's top quarterback. He was the backup as Hybl guided the Sooners to the Rose Bowl, and played in 10 games during White's 2003 Heisman Trophy season. He redshirted last season as White returned for a sixth year with the Sooners.

Of the final two candidates, Thompson was more steady and less prone to mistakes than Bomar, a redshirt freshman and another 6-foot-4 righty.

"I just felt overall that there was a little more, maybe, consistency there to some degree," Stoops said, "but it's still very close when you look at them overall."

In the Sooners' three open scrimmages, the 21-year-old Thompson was 41-for-73 for 453 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. Bomar, 19½ months younger, was 30-for-61 for 359 yards with two touchdowns, but also five interceptions.

After meeting with the coaching staff and Stoops, offensive coordinator Chuck Long called both candidates into his office early Thursday to inform them of the decision. The rest of the team found out in a huddle at the end of practice, and the team applauded both players for the competition, which began in the spring.

"Rhett's definitely a great quarterback," Thompson said. "Nothing to take away from him, but at this time, they thought I would be a better fit for this offense."

In 14 career games, Thompson has completed 31 of 47 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns, with two interceptions. In 2003, he rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries and some fans thought he should have played in the national championship game as LSU's defense pressured White, who was still recovering from two knee surgeries.

Thompson's takeover at quarterback was delayed when White returned for a sixth season, and that gave Bomar and Tommy Grady a chance at winning the job.

Grady, considered a viable candidate in the spring, missed all of Oklahoma's fall practices due to an intercession class, and he wound up transferring. That left only Bomar between Thompson and the starting job.

After three planned scrimmages that were open to the public, Stoops ordered another added to the schedule to sort out the quarterback situation. After that scrimmage Wednesday, it was time to make a decision.

When Long called, Thompson was nervous but confident.

"I wasn't too sure," said Thompson, who's from Leander High School in Texas. "I thought that I had done everything I could to put myself in that position, and I felt real positive going in."

Thompson said he thought his leadership ability and his experience and chemistry with the team entering his fourth year were factors in the choice.

"We felt that Paul earned the right to start based on his body of work from spring, throughout the summer 'til now," Long said. "But we also felt that Rhett showed us some things the way he moved the football when he was in the scrimmages that warranted some play time."

Bomar, the No. 2 recruit in the nation behind teammate Adrian Peterson last year, was disappointed with the decision but determined to make the most of his opportunities off the bench.

"I'm going to get to play, so that's good," Bomar said. "I'm just going to have to come off and be ready when my opportunity comes in the game. I'm going to be cold coming off, but I just have to go in there and compete, play my game and have fun."

"I'm a competitor. I'm a fiery guy. I like to wing it around when I go in there. When I go in there, I'm just going to have fun and everybody's going to see the way I play."

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