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August 29, 2016

Patrick Mahomes

Justis Nelson

Lubbock, Texas

Q. Going into the opening game, where do you feel this offense is right now, and what do you like about how fall camp went? What do you think you guys still need to work on?
PATRICK MAHOMES: I think the offense is at a high level right now. We're really progressing fast, and I like how we are progressing throughout fall camp. I'm excited to see us get on the field, under the lights and see how everybody reacts and show who is really ready for the season to go.

Q. What's it like having Dylan back? I know it's obviously well-documented that you guys had a good relationship in high school and all that stuff. But what's it like having him back?
PATRICK MAHOMES: It's awesome. Having that chemistry on the field, it's hard to really replicate that with a lot of the receivers. It just takes repetition. Just having a guy you've thrown to since you were a little kid and he knows where you're going to be at and he knows where you want him to be at, really helps out a lot.

Q. What have you seen from Devin Lauderdale?
PATRICK MAHOMES: I've seen a lot of maturity. A guy who really came in off a little bit of the suspension, coming in ready to play and ready to prove why he should be here and what he has. And you saw it a little bit with Jakeem last year. A guy that was really out to prove something, and I'm seeing that in Devin Lauderdale this year.

Q. What is the biggest difference for you between fall camp and game-week prep?
PATRICK MAHOMES: I mean, Coach Kingsbury is really good about kind of preparing us for the game. Our last week of fall camp, the last few days we had a simulated game week. So not a huge difference. But just having that extra emotion, extra energy at practice will probably be a little different. I'm really, really going to be focusing in on SFA and trying to really prepare myself for the game.

Q. Coach was saying no receiver necessarily really has a starting job (indiscernible), everybody kind of has an alternate at their position. Have you noticed that competition, just working with those receivers?
PATRICK MAHOMES: It's definitely benefited a lot, just having that competition every day. No guy really can come every day and expect: I'm going to be starting. They have to come out, go 100% in every drill and really try to earn their starting spot.

It's built great relationships. I feel like everybody has taken it well. They're really cheering for each other, and you like to see that. When you play in this offense, everybody's going to play. You're going to be two deep at least in receiver. So to see those guys out there competing is really going to help out the team.

Q. With the offensive line and camp, how do you feel like it's developed?
PATRICK MAHOMES: I feel like it's developed well. We've had some surprises with some guys that have really stepped up and stepped up the competition level. There's been a lot of movement, but I'm pretty sure it's pretty solid now. We've kind of run the same ones in the last few days, and I'm expecting to really solidify this Monday and have that offensive line for the rest of the week and rest of the season hopefully.

Q. Who are some of the surprises you mentioned?
PATRICK MAHOMES: There's kind of a six-, seven-man rotation. Paul Stawarz has really stepped his game up of being a guy that -- I don't know if he'll start for sure, but he'll be in the mix and have a chance to. And some other guys, like Madison Akamnonu who has really stepped up his game this fall camp, and then Terence Steele has been a really dominant presence out there.

Q. What difference do you feel like (indiscernible) in camp?
PATRICK MAHOMES: He's definitely helped out with a lot of confidence and a lot of swagger. There are a lot of guys that a few of them have played, but they haven't had that starting role. I feel like those guys really with Coach Foster have earned that confidence that they expect to really go out there and kill it this season. And I'm excited to see them get on the field and play.

Q. What would you like to improve on from a year ago?
PATRICK MAHOMES: For me, it's just stopping the bad plays. Really, just moving the chains, being more efficient. Cutting interceptions down and really just being the best quarterback for the team and not just trying to make the big play at all times.

Q. Is that something you worked on in the off-season between last year and today?
PATRICK MAHOMES: Yes, of course, and just really worked on my pocket presence, and you'll for sure be able to tell. I feel like just stepping up in the pocket and making those threes, making those ten-yard outs and stuff like that instead of every single play running around. And there are some times you want to run around and make those big plays happen, and knowing where the line is and when you need to throw a five-yard completion to get the chains moving.

Q. What is the key for you recognizing those big moments and trying to make those big plays? I guess you don't want to tame that part down too much, but just going for more?
PATRICK MAHOMES: I feel like it's really just going through my progressions. I feel like last year there were some times you can tell before the play even started I was going to run, I feel like I had it in my mind, and it just goes back to my high school days of really just trying to make a big play happen all the time. But really going through my progressions, and when that isn't open, then running and making those big plays happen is where the line is.

Q. I know this is only your second go-around, at least since the opening day started, but what's the biggest difference about the buzz in the air, running through the smoke for the first time and yet to open the season, the jitters in the locker room and what separates the season opener from some of those games down the line?
PATRICK MAHOMES: It's very different. You really have to manage your emotions. Last year I feel like I came out so energized at first. I kind of got tired in the second quarter. So I feel like I've really learned from that and managed that. You don't need to be extremely energized three hours before the game when you're just getting down there to warm up. You just kind of manage it. And it will build up. You run out that tunnel for the first time, it's going to be loud and you're going to be energized, but just kind of taking it throughout the whole game.

MODERATOR: Questions for Justis.

Q. Justis, how big of an honor is it for you to be voted team captain this year?
JUSTIS NELSON: I mean, it's a great honor. We have guys that work just as hard as I do, but the fact that the team voted for me to be one of the people to represent them, I mean, it doesn't feel any greater than that.

Q. Give us a scouting report on SFA's offense, and what has Coach Gibbs indicated how they were most likely to attack you?
JUSTIS NELSON: Yeah, they're a team that spreads the ball out. They've got coaches that have come from everywhere. I think one of the coaches even coached at Oregon for a little bit. So they have a wide variety of things. They like to run the ball too. And Coach Gibbs, we're still working on the game plan and everything like that. But he's going to have a plan for us, and it's just up to us to execute.

Q. What's the biggest difference for you personally when you're talking about fall camp coming into a game week?
JUSTIS NELSON: Just how fast the game's going to come. I mean, you can practice all you want out here, but it's nothing to simulate like it is out there on Saturday night. So just picking up the speed of the game, getting tired. Once you go 80 plays, you can't simulate that in practice either. So just that mental toughness and just making sure you're executing every play.

Q. What do you think the biggest improvement is going to come from the defense this year?
JUSTIS NELSON: I just think discipline-wise that's the biggest improvement. Guys staying in gaps. Guys being physical, tackling. That's something that we're working on day-in and day-out. So I think those are the biggest improvements. Just like I said, staying in gaps and coming up with a body part. Making sure we don't let any big plays.

Q. How about guys like Jordyn Brooks coming in as a true freshman and getting that start, what's most impressed you about him through fall camp and how he's come along?
JUSTIS NELSON: Yeah, he's been picking it up quick. He's a big guy. He's a physical guy. That's what the coaches like about him. He's fast. He has all the talent that you need to play linebacker, whichever position he's at. So we're just looking for him to be athletic, make tackles, and just do his job. Not try to do too much.

Q. Having a guy opposite of you in D.J. Polite-Bray, when he first came to Tech playing receiver and now transitioning. What's been his biggest stride? Is that some size and athleticism you feel like you've not really had opposite of you out on the field?
JUSTIS NELSON: I feel like D.J., like you said, he's made big strides switching from receiver to corner. He's starting to pick up the actual feel of corner. His footwork has gotten a lot better. His hands are a lot better. He's making plays on the ball, just like he did when he was receiver. But he's just made that transition, and he looks a lot better. He's a physical guy. Like you said, he's about 185, 190, and he can tackle too. So we're excited about him.

Q. Speaking of tackling, Coach Gibbs said during the spring and in the fall that they wanted to tackle more. Have you noticed that in practice that you guys have tackled more than previous years?
JUSTIS NELSON: Yeah, definitely. We've got a lot more live reps against our offense. Just tackling guys out in space. They brought in some new equipment to help us tackle, so every day we're doing at least three, four tackling drills live. So going to the ground, actually wrapping up and finishing.

Q. Looking at the depth chart for the wide receivers, it seems there are a lot of ors there. Who is the toughest guy you've personally tried to lock down?
JUSTIS NELSON: I'd probably have to say Cam, Cam Batson. He's a shifty guy and he's physical too. So having him out there on the slide. He's fast, he's little, he has some of the best routes that I've seen on our offense, so he's probably given me the most trouble out of all the receivers.

Q. What's the difference in just the buzz, the atmosphere, the feeling in the air running through the smoke for the first time in a season opener that just separates it from other games on the schedule?
JUSTIS NELSON: Just getting those jitters out of the way. It's been a long time since we've been under the lights. We get tired of going against the same guys. As good as they are, there's nothing like a live game in front of 65,000 fans. So we're just ready to get that first game out of the way. Just ready to go out there and compete.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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