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Thompson readies for first scrimmage

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Paul Thompson doesn't think his abilities at quarterback went away in the brief time he spent at wide receiver.

His first big chance to test that theory comes Saturday, when Oklahoma holds its first scrimmage of the fall on Owen Field.

``I'm sure it'll come back. It'll feel real natural when I'm out there,'' Thompson said after Oklahoma's practice on Friday. ``I always feel more comfortable in game situations. I'm not thinking as much. It's not as much of a drill. You've got down and distance, you're moving the ball and guys really take to that.''

Thompson, a fifth-year senior, moved from quarterback to receiver early last fall when Rhett Bomar was named the Sooners' starting quarterback. He remained Oklahoma's backup but devoted more and more time to receiver. After the Holiday Bowl in December, he focused entirely on his new position and didn't throw a passing route until he suddenly became Oklahoma's starter again when Bomar was dismissed from the team last week.

``It's been going pretty well,'' Thompson said. ``Overall, I'm surprised at the progress I've made. It's all starting to come back.''

Thompson said one of his main challenges has been perfecting the snap exchange with the center _ something he didn't practice throughout the spring or summer. On Friday, he said he went without mishandling a snap.

Thompson also has been reconditioning his arm to get used to throwing the ball dozens of times in a short period of time.

``The first couple days, it was hurting pretty bad, but I'm back to full go now,'' Thompson said. ``I got maybe 30 passes my first day and then 35, 40 and kind of graduated up. Now I'm full go. Whatever the quarterbacks are doing, I'm throwing.

``I'm getting treatment on my shoulder so definitely it's not sore any more. It feels good.''

Coach Bob Stoops said he has seen steady improvement in his quarterback play and he plans for his starters on offense to face the first-team defense in the scrimmage. He said coaches hadn't determined yet how many plays to run.

Kevin Wilson, Oklahoma's new offensive coordinator, said his main goals for the scrimmage were to limit turnovers and maximize effort.

``We don't want to question our offense after (Saturday's) scrimmage,'' Wilson said. ``We can't win if we don't play hard. We want to come out the first week and make sure we understand how to play hard.''

After the scrimmage, Wilson said he expects to meet with Thompson and begin tailoring the offense to the quarterback's preferences. For the first 10 days, Oklahoma has put no limits on its offense while watching to see what works best and allowing Thompson to determine what he likes and dislikes.

``They throw a lot at you, let you soak it all in and then start weeding things out,'' Thompson said.

For his first game-type action at quarterback since the season opener last year, Thompson is keeping it simple: ``I just want to minimize bad plays, turnovers, things of that nature and just manage the game and manage the offense is my main goal,'' he said.
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