Colts starting offensive guard Dylan Gandy chatted with ColtPower's Ed Thompson this week about his time off, the Jets and Titans matchups, preparing for the Redskins, the team's reaction to this week's trade and more in this exclusive interview!
Ed Thompson: Tell us a little about the fun you had with your time off....
Dylan Gandy: I went to Colorado to watch the (Texas Tech) Red Raiders play. My girlfriend has some friends out there and I have some friends out there so we got to connect with them, spend a lot of good time in some beautiful country, and watch a horrible
ET: I didn’t see the game what was the final score?
DG: 30-6 it was just ugly. The guys didn’t do anything close to what they’re capable of and that was the disappointing part, but hopefully they’ll turn it around.
ET: Did you get to talk to any of the players while you were there?
DG: Yeah, I did actually. I still have some pretty good friends who are playing so it was good to get to talk to those guys a little bit.
ET: Who are some of the guys you’re still in touch with?
DG: Brandon Jones is a center, he’s a good friend of mine, so is Manuel Ramirez the right guard, and Glen January is the left tackle; those are probably the guys on the team that I’m the closest to, but there are quite a few that I’m good friends with.
ET: How are you feeling? If I remember correctly, you were listed on the injury report not long ago with a groin muscle problem.
DG: It was a slight tear in the oblique muscle, but that sucker feels great. It’s not bothering me at all anymore.
ET: I know we haven't talked since the Jets game with that wild finish. You guys score near the end of the game with an impressive drive, and they run back the kickoff for a touchdown.
As part of the offensive unit that was going to have to go back out there, what was going through your head?
DG: Well there was definitely a little bit of disappointment, but, at the same time, there was never any panic or fear. It was like “okay, we have a job to go do so let’s go do it” and I really believe that’s the attitude that everybody took and everybody was really confident that we were going to be able to march down there and score.
ET: Peyton looked like a man who was not going to be denied on that final drive. Did you feel that as you assembled out there for your last drive?
DG: You know what, I did. I really believe that starts from the top and trickles down because I don’t believe there was a guy on the field, on our team who felt anything different than that. From Coach Dungy all the way down to the guys on the field, I really believe everyone was very confident and determined and it was great. We get paid to compete, and that’s what we were doing and having a great time at it.
ET: Then you had a really tough battle with the Titans. If I remember correctly, you had Randy Starks lined up across from you. He's a talented guy, so what did you have to do to be effective against him?
DG: He was definitely a talented guy and that team has some really good defensive tackles so I had to bring the A-game for sure. Guys like that you just have to get on and stay on them and know they’re going to keep coming and you have to do what you can do to stop them.
ET: Did you get a chance to clash at all with your old teammate David Thornton? And did you get a chance to talk to him at all?
DG: Yeah, there were a couple moments on the field that were pretty fun and after the game we got to talk to him a little bit. To some extent, as much as a linebacker can an offensive lineman, he really took me under his wing last year and helped me out in a lot of different ways. I really have a deep appreciation for him as a football player, but even more so as a person and I really respect his faith as well.
ET: This week you have some uncertainty in your preparation. The starting defensive tackles have been recovering from injuries, so it’s not certain which player will be lining up across from you. How much harder is that making your week?
DG: I really just try to prepare to face the best. Everybody in this league is a good player, I really believe that. If you go into it with any mindset other than you’re facing the best guy in the NFL that week I believe you’re setting yourself up for failure.
I don’t know of any defensive tackle who doesn’t rotate nowadays so you have to expect, every game, to face a few different players. That’s not really anything new, you have to be ready to face other defensive tackles every week.
So I’m trying to prepare like I’m playing against the best guy in the world.
Q: I noticed on one play recently you had to pull during pass protection and pick up the defensive end from the opposite side. Is that a real rarity, or is that something you're called on to do at least a few times each game? You have to cover some real ground to make a solid block in that situation.
DG: Yeah, that’s one of the plays we have in our package. It’s one of the plays we do in the blocking schemes; it’s a play-action to help sell the run, and that’s something we do from time to time depending on if that team gives us a look that would require us to do that.
Q: Five games under your belt, I'm going to ask you to do something that I know is tough for you because you're a humble guy. But tell me what you think you're doing well as a run-blocker, and then as a pass blocker.
DG: Well I don’t know about all that, but I think I’ve improved from week to week. I come from a school where we didn’t run the ball a whole lot so I didn’t get a whole lot of practice at running the ball and I didn’t really know technique of how to run-block. I’m just trying to take in what we’re coached and just really apply the techniques both to run and pass blocking and each week fine-tune my technique with that.
Q: Biggest challenge you're still working on right now?
DG: I wouldn’t say there’s one thing in particular or one area that I really have a hold of. I would say I’m trying, and I know this sounds cliché, but in every aspect. I want to better my understanding of the fundamentals, knowing why we do what we do really helps me out schematically, and as I said earlier, I just want to keep fine-tuning my technique and improving that from week to week.
Q: What was the reaction of the guys around the complex when they learned that the team had made a trade for defensive tackle Booger McFarland?
A: There was a lot of excitement. It really goes to show what a great organization we have and how committed they are to doing whatever they believe will help us win games. We’re really looking forward to him doing the same kind of good things on defense that he did in Tampa Bay.