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September 23, 2014

Andrew Nelson

Q.  I had a chance to talk to James a couple minutes ago about you.  What areas do you think you need to improve the most individually with your game?  Is it more the run, the pass?
ANDREW NELSON:  I would say if you're talking run or pass, I'd say probably run for me.  I think an area that I can definitely improve is becoming more like Donovan when it comes to the run game, being more physical at the point of attack.  I think backside and stuff, usually my quickness and stuff helps with that, but I think definitely my point of attack blocking could definitely improve.

Q.  And how does one improve that?  I'm sure that it's instinct?
ANDREW NELSON:  Yeah, well, Coach Hand always talks about imposing your will on someone else, and a lot of that comes down to‑‑ he always talks about trying to be the nastiest guy out there on the offensive line.  So I think a lot of it is trying to have that mindset, that you're going to go out and dominate the person across from you.

Q.  What are some of the differences between how you block when you know you're going to run it versus when you're just in pass protection?  What are your assignments and how does that vary from a physical standpoint?
ANDREW NELSON:  Well, there's a lot of different things, even from stance to alignment definitely changes a lot, but obviously pass protection I'd say is kind of more finesse blocking than the run game, which is kind of more just dominating the person across from you.  So a lot of it kind of is where your athleticism comes in a lot, especially at tackle when you're going against quick D‑ends and stuff like that.  So I think just really that I'd say.

Q.  Would you consider one or the other to be harder than the other?  Not necessarily harder but take a different kind of skill set?
ANDREW NELSON:  It definitely takes a different kind of skill set.  Like I said, I think athletically as far as your feet and technique and stuff like that, pass blocking is probably more difficult, but it also depends who you're going against.  There's D‑ends that are a lot better in the pass game, some that are a lot better in the run, backers that field real hard, so a lot of it depends on your opponent, too.

Q.  I know Donovan is over on the left side, but at any time through spring practice or summer camp did you get any reps on the left side and are you comfortable with playing both sides if you have to?
ANDREW NELSON:  Yeah, definitely.  Coach Hand always stresses being a very versatile player, and he likes to move guys around a lot so that no matter what you can get the best five guys out there to play.  All of us have taken a lot of reps at different positions, and I've definitely gotten my fair share of reps at left tackle.

Q.  On Sundays when you guys go back over the game with Coach Hand, what's the meeting room like with him?  How do you guys evaluate your play and what types of things does he tell you?
ANDREW NELSON:  Well, Coach Hand always says it's his job to correct our mistakes, it's not necessarily his job to pat us on the back.  So although if we do good things, he'll let us know, we really have to go over those corrections and get those things fixed.  He'll let us know, he'll say, listen, guys, I'm real proud of the way you played, but the most important thing is correcting the mistakes that we made.  So we go through those corrections, and that's kind of our focus on Sunday.

Q.  From game one to last week, step by step, just how much improvement have you seen in your own game and on the team overall?
ANDREW NELSON:  I think there's been a ton of improvement.  A lot of the offensive line is communication and executing together, and I think we were kind of struggling in the beginning to communicate not only amongst ourselves but with the tight ends, the backs and the quarterbacks.  So I think just because our communication has improved so much and we're kind of clicking on that level, that really helps us to execute better.

Q.  You mentioned Coach Hand.  Does he cook for you guys?
ANDREW NELSON:  He hasn't yet, but he says he will, so I'm kind of looking forward to that.

Q.  Have you guys had a little fun with him over his episode?
ANDREW NELSON:  Yeah, we actually all watched it, and that was kind of right at the beginning of when they got here, and it was kind of a cool way to kind of get in and kind of break down the walls, kind of laugh about how he did on the show and stuff, but I thought he did a good job, and I'm excited to try some of that food some day.

Q.  Even up 4‑0, knowing that you guys not just as an offensive line but as a team as a whole can improve so much, just in the locker room with you guys and your teammates, how does that make you guys feel?  Does that excite you knowing you can improve so much knowing you're undefeated right now?
ANDREW NELSON:  Oh, my gosh, yeah.  That's probably the most exciting part about where we're at right now is the fact that we're 4‑0 even while at times playing‑‑ not executing well and playing very sloppy, so knowing the fact that we have a lot of room to improve and we're at the spot that we're at is really exciting knowing that this is definitely not the best we have.

Q.  When you come out of a game like the one that you had this past weekend, how do you kind of evaluate it as an offensive line?  Are you just happy that you were able to execute, or is there some sort of maybe we expected that we were going to be able to succeed and we didn't?  Where is the balance between saying okay, we've figured this out and maybe we still have to prove this against a bigger and better defense?
ANDREW NELSON:  Oh, no, we definitely have to prove ourselves against every team we play, and we're definitely not going to take the attitude, hey, listen, we dominated up front against UMass so we've kind of figured this thing out.  We're going to go into every game thinking, listen, these guys are going to be the best up front that we've played and we have to dominate them.  We definitely don't think we have it all figured out and we definitely think we have a lot of room for improvement.

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