Monday Morning Quarterback with Jared Clauss

The Iowa Hawkeyes opened the 2008 season by beating Maine 46-3. Former Hawkeye Jared Clauss was in attendance and liked what he saw. Clauss offers his observations from the game, and talks about the importance of building momentum, in addition to several more insights in this week's Monday Morning Quarterback

Q: The game was listed as a sellout, and I was concerned there would be a lot of empty seats but that was not the case. What did you think of the fan support, as this state has had a pretty tough year with floods and tornados, and last year didn't end so well on the field and what has taken place off the field, too.

Jared Clauss: I thought the crowd support was incredible. I didn't hear any negative talk. Things were positive before the game, everyone was excited. The Hawkeye family was back together. I know that it has been a long off-season for a lot of people but it was good to see the enthusiasm back, the crowd was into it during the game and it was back to having opinions on football. It was good to see everyone out there.

Q: A lot of people are sharing their opinions on the quarterback. What did you see from where you sat?

Clauss: I thought they both looked good. You have to take it with a grain of salt; it was a good opening game for both of them, they did what they needed to. They will watch the tape and see some mistakes and things that they need to work on, but from what I saw it was a positive opening game for them.

Q: Do you think both players are capable of leading this team to eight wins?

Clauss: Jake looks improved, and it's the first time we are seeing Stanzi. They both looked like they are capable. Going forward, the coaching staff will probably play the rotation game for at least one, if not a couple more games and see how they respond to the pressure.

Q: What did you think of the defensive line play? The stat sheet maybe wasn't as impressive as you might like, but Maine did run a spread and that can have an effect. But at the end of the day, they only scored three points.

Clauss: For a pair of young defensive ends, I thought they played well. That is a tough offense to play against. They were double teaming the inside guys quite a bit and staying on them a long time on the outside zone plays, where the quarterback would read on the handoffs. The Maine staff identified strengths on the defensive line and made sure they were accounted for. When that happens, other guys need to step up, but they only scored three points. Whether or not they had 10 sacks, they only gave up three points, and at the end of the day, stats don't get you to a bowl game, wins do.

Q: What area do you think they may spend some time on this week in practice, areas to shore up?

Clauss: I know they have a system for everything, and every week they work on fundamentals. I know they will have their tackling circuit one day, their inside drill one day, working on cut blocks, working on the team pursuit. They do that each week, they always focus on fundamentals. I didn't see any glaring needs. As I said before, three points ain't too shabby. A couple of turnovers and a safety, I thought it was a positive first game for them.

Q: Did anything jump out at you overall with regards to the defense?

Clauss: I thought they looked confident. I thought they looked like they knew what they were doing and I liked that they were feeding off of each other. It's tough when a game is decided early on. It's tough to get emotion after that, but they looked excited. It was good to see some younger players get some early experience. They can build off of all these things. Both offense, defense and special teams, all three phases, it was a positive first game and there were a lot of good things that they can build on. We don't know what plays were called or what mistakes were made in terms of x's and o's, but it was a solid first game for them. People were happy after the game, but they know that with all due respect to Maine, it was a lesser opponent.

Q: Iowa's defensive line coach said at media day that he played the front four too many snaps per game, and he wants to get that number down so that there is some rest early on. What do you think of that?

Clauss: That's on the mark. Coach knows what he is talking about. If he feels that a Mitch King being tired at the end of the drive isn't as good as the guy behind him, he knows what he is doing. At any position, having a good mix of talent in there, new faces and energy, that will be positive for the defense. I will say that personally, I always felt better in the third and fourth quarters because you get a feel for what the offensive line is doing. Some of those guys that are rotating in might not get that feel of the game, if you will.

Q: Back to the offense…the receivers were young and inexperienced last year, some of them were thrust into early action due to injury and attrition. Did you see improvement?

Clauss: I did. Outside of one or two dropped passes, I think the guys were cutting well. I don't know what routes they were supposed to be running, but they looked like they did what they needed. The timing looks good, and that is good in a first game, regardless of the opponent. The timing looked pretty close to where it needed to be. There weren't any long plays, but I was impressed. With a couple of guys out, that will only get better when they get healthy. I thought the complement of receivers made the plays they needed to make and they looked more confident than last year.

Q: What jumped out at you with regards to the running game?

Clauss: I thought they all ran really hard. That stood out to me; they were not tentative going to the line of scrimmage. In Coach Ferentz/Coach O'Keefe's system, it's one cut and move. I thought they all attacked the line of scrimmage really well, which for a former defensive guy like myself, you don't want a guy coming through there with a head of steam, you want them dancing and looking for holes. So that is good, and I think I speak for everyone else that it was great to see Shonn look like he was in shape and the two guys behind him look like they are capable if he gets hurt. I was pleasantly surprised with the running backs.

Q: You saw a lot of offensive linemen in your day; what were your impressions of Iowa's offensive line from Saturday?

Clauss: Fitting in with what I have been saying, I noticed a few times that all five of them were blowing their guy off the ball a couple of yards. They looked like they have taken the next step. Once again, it was Maine, but they did look like they came out confident and were playing well together, and that is a huge part of the offensive line, is being on the same page. I didn't see a lot of mistakes. Maine has some decent players, too, so they are not going to have 10 yard run gains each play. I thought they did a good job and I am excited to see what they do as the tempo picks up over the next few weeks.

Q: Iowa had Maine last week and Florida International this week. Do you think given how last year ended, that these two opponents, that provide very good opportunities for wins, is the way to go for this team? Chuck Hartlieb talked a lot in this space about building momentum; is that perhaps the best tonic for this program right now?

Clauss: I think it all depends on what you have coming back. They were young last year and they are still young in some positions. But based on how they ended last year, I am sure that confidence level was a little bit down. I think these are the perfect games for them. They need to build the confidence. I know they have the talent. The parity in college football is there, and I agree with Chuck 100 percent; the important thing is the momentum. The good teams keep it all year, the great teams carry it from year to year, those are the really good programs. But for this team, I think this is a great couple of games. They need to get warmed up here for when the big boys come to town. We will see what they do against Florida International. I agree, they should be faster and seeing another offense similar to the one you will see against Iowa State is a good thing

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