MMQB with Jared Clauss

The Iowa Hawkeyes have routed their second straight opponent and now prepare for one of the biggest games on the annual schedule; it's Iowa State week. Jared Clauss was a part of five of these games, and being an Iowa high school product, he has a vested interest in this contest. We talk with him about that, and more...

Q: I know we spoke about this a little bit last week, but now that the Maine and Florida International games are completed and Iowa dominated vastly inferior opponents, do you think this was the right tonic for this program, right now?

Jared Clauss: I think based on what they had coming back and the way they ended the season last year, this was a good thing for them. If there was a quarterback issue, these are the best kind of games to rotate guys in. I think that loss to Western Michigan last year shook their confidence quite a bit, and games like that happen. They needed these first two games, and the opponent wasn't as good, but they need to establish confidence and get their timing down and they have done that. I think these have been two good games for them.

Q: Not only at quarterback, as the coaches said this spring that all positions would be up for grabs. So that probably was a good thing.

Clauss: Sure, you always want to be able to evaluate guys and it's tough to see the younger guys that are second and third on the depth chart without games like this. You can look at it either way; you could say that if we are going to be ready for Iowa State and Pitt, we have to play someone to challenge us a bit. But for this team, I think this exactly what they needed for them to realize they can play, they are good players and it was a bad game against Western Michigan. I think it's a good thing.

Q: Rick Stanzi made the first start of his career and played a great half of football; he looked really good. I will be shocked if he is not the starting quarterback against Iowa State. While FIU is his first start, his first real start of significance will come this week against a quality team in Iowa State, one of the biggest games on the schedule each and every year.

Clauss: That's why you play college football, they want to play in the big time games. I am sure he is excited; I know he will see more pressure than he has seen in these first two games. What I was excited about is that he wasn't just out there completing balls. Yes, he has a good arm, he was managing the game well, but he did a couple of other things; he stayed in the pocket under pressure, he got out of a couple of sacks situations, he was using the hard count, he ran a little bit. I saw a lot of good things out of him. I am sure the coaches are excited about it, and we will see who they go with . But you have to have two good quarterbacks, and I am glad that so far there are two quarterbacks on this team.

Q: You were a member of the team in 2001, when Iowa was leading a ranked Michigan at halftime and you guys had not turned the corner yet as a program. The boos came down because the fans wanted Brad Banks in the game over Kyle McCann. Kirk talked about that a little bit in how disappointing it is to hear boos, as there were boos Saturday wehen Jake Christensen came onto the field before he even took a snap. Being a former player, how does that make you feel?

Clauss: Most of the time we don't hear it. I am sure that Jake heard it, because there was a so called controversy going in, but most of the times guys that are playing ball are with their teammates and coaches and they are playing for each other, and you block that stuff out. You might hear it, but those opinions from the stands are not as important as the respect you get from your teammates and coaches. Personally, it was a minority of the fans I am sure, like it always is. People have a right to express their opinion. I am not saying that it's right or wrong. I wouldn't do it, I believe in being positive and staying behind them. But I know it was a minority of the fans so I am not too concerned.

Q: Mitch King and Matt Kroul didn't get a lot of work Saturday, but they probably didn't need it. What have you seen from Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard that has you excited?

Clauss: What excites me is they are making the plays that are there for them to make. If you have 11 guys on the field and they make the plays each time it comes to them, whether its an inside run and King and Kroul takes care of it, or a play action boot or a rollout and the end has contain, short pass where a backer can pick it off, everyone is making the plays they need to make and that is encouraging. Going forward, the most important thing is that they continue to make those plays. King and Kroul will produce, and if they get this kind of production out of Clayborn and Ballard, they will have a success year on defense.

Q: Based on the first two games, what area does Iowa need to shore up defensively?

Clauss: I think they have looked solid, but the big test will be a team that is as fast as them. We will see if they can put pressure on Iowa State. In Iowa's defense, getting pressure with four without blitzing is a big thing. We will see if they can match up with a team that has similar speed, and if they can put pressure on the offense. It will be tough to get seven sacks against Iowa State, and we need to see what they can do this weekend against a team with a better offensive line.

Q: You were in five of coach Ferentz's nine games involving Iowa State. Some folks felt Dan McCarney's teams were more up for these games than was Iowa. In your first hand experience, did Kirk put ‘enough' emphasis on this game?

Clauss: I can't speak on what McCarney did, but I think that Coach Ferentz puts emphasis on this game. It's a big game, he knows it, he prepares the team, he knows that Iowa State will put forth their best effort. The ball hasn't bounced our way the last few years, but not because Coach Ferentz doesn't emphasize the game, Iowa State has played better and won. There have been a few bad breaks, but like I said, it's not because the coaching staff doesn't emphasize it, believe me. They are very into the game, it's just a matter of execution when you get out there.

Q: What did this game mean to you, being a Des Moines high school player?

Clauss: It's huge. Personally, I had close friends that went to Iowa State that I played with in high school, a few walk ons and some on scholarship. It was big, to get a chance to play against those guys. As a senior, I walked out as a captain and I walked up to some of my friends on the other side of the ball. It was big. It's exciting, guys look forward to it, guys are up for it. This is why the rivalry is a success, because both teams place value in it. I can't wait to see them in action; it's exactly what it should be. Both teams are unbeaten, both teams have shown some good things. The atmosphere in Kinnick on Saturday morning will be electric.

Q: With Iowa State playing two quarterbacks that will be in their first big time road game, what kind of impact can the fans have on this game?

Clauss: A big impact. I played with guys in the NFL that said it, you hear it all of the time from different people; playing in Kinnick is a tough thing because it's so unique. I think Oklahoma State and one other have a sideline as small as Iowa's. That is an advantage to us. Some people, it won't affect. But a lot of people, based on who I have talked with, it's unique for them. Whether it affects their game, I can't say but people notice it. The fans can be big, and I think they will be great like they always are. Like I said, I can't wait, because it looks like it's going to be a really good game.

Jared Clauss played for Iowa between 2000-2003. He started his senior year on Iowa's 10-3 Outback Bowl Championship team, and played a key role during Iowa's Big Ten title season of 2002 in addition to Iowa's 2001 Alamo Bowl Championship campaign. Clauss was a three year veteran of the NFL, most notably with the Tennessee Titans.

Clauss is now a Financial Adviser with UBS Financial in West Des Moines, Iowa, back in the city where he starred for West Des Moines Valley as a prep football player.

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