Monday Morning Quarterback with Jared Clauss

The Iowa Hawkeyes beat Iowa State 17-5 on Saturday in a rain filled game that came down to a big play on special teams and Iowa managing both sides of the line of scrimmage. Jared Clauss spent time on the line of scrimmage for the Hawks and offers his takes on the game...

Q: Let's start with the defense. The third quarter stand was very impressive in the face of all of that adversity.

Jared Clauss: I was very impressed. I was especially impressed with guys that haven't been a part of that defense for very long, making plays. Coach Parker always stressed putting out the fire. It doesn't matter how it started, put it out. They did that very well down in the redzone.

Q: How exciting is it to see so many young players, guys that haven't been out there as you said, making huge individual plays that added up…Johnson, Prater, Hunter, Binns, Angerer…a lot of back seven guys that are inexperienced. I think this defense will return 8 starters next year. I think it says a lot that in week three you get that many key contributions.

Clauss: It does say a lot. You always want to see guys step up in the biggest games and play like they can play during practice when there is no pressure on them. We saw some young guys take some steps and that is encouraging. Moving forward, especially with the number of defensive backs in the game due to the ISU packages, that is a positive. You can never have too much depth, and the more experience you get, the transition in rotating guys in is that much easier to do.

Q: Some of the commentators were saying that defenses love wet and sloppy days, is that the case? Is it easier on the DL or the OL?

Clauss: I would say it would be easier on an offensive lineman, but I am biased. They know when and where they are stepping for the most part. I always think its easier for an offensive guy, because they know the snap count, what foot they are playing with. Wet conditions are not good for either side, it slows everyone down. You saw on the offensive zone plays, we were slipping on our cuts, as was Iowa State.

Q: I expected Iowa State to run several quarterback draw plays. Were you surprised we didn't see that?

Clauss: I thought they would have tried it, but I also think that Coach Parker had some things going with the defensive line. Coach Kascenzki and Coach Parker took away a lot of the possibility there. Coach Chizik didn't go to it, so he must have seen something he didn't want to try. I think it's a good thing. I don't know if we would have had success, so we will never know. But I think a big part of it was our side to side scheme and not opening up lanes for the quarterback to run through.

Q: Mitch King was lined up at a 45 degree angle related to the line of scrimmage and blasting on the center, and Matt Kroul was able to come around his backside on the twist. Is that what you are talking about? How does that affect an offense's ability to run a play like that?

Clauss: We have been doing that for years. It's a staple of the Iowa defensive line. It's something we do. I am not sure what their thought process was, but the way I see it, the benefit is that you get a guy that might take away some of the pass rush from him, but he is moving laterally at the line, who can plant. The offensive line can't widen you out, which the wider the passing lanes are for the pass rush, the easier it is for the draw. I think what the ywere trying to do was collapose the pocket and keep the inside guys going side to side and limit the quarterback's option of stepping up and taking off. That is the way I saw it.

Q: This year, Iowa is going to see a lot of variations of spread offenses. What that could mean is fewer sacks. Do you think they are getting enough pressure?

Clauss: Well, they are doing what they need to do. When I was there, the coaches would put in a game plan that might require different things in terms of the pass rush game, in terms of staying in lanes, in terms of the routes the receivers ran, getting your hands up more often…so I think what they have been asked to do, especially this week, was to keep the quarterback in the pocket, and they did that. I can't say if they are getting ‘enough' pressure, but they are getting enough wins. I know that much. I am sure everyone on that team is happy and will do what the coaches ask them to do.

Q: As you said, the footing was tough for both sides in the running game. I was encouraged by the Iowa offensive line at the LOS. Did you see that?

Clauss: I saw that. I thought ISU tried to go to the same thing with the I-back or straight up the middle instead of their shotgun zone read, and they were not able to do it. Iowa was when it got down to the nitty gritty, they were able to line up and get a push in that fourth quarter. That was what huge for them; their ability to knock the defense off the ball a little bit.

Q: It's been a long time since Iowa has rotated quarterbacks outside of an injury situation, such as things were during your redshirt freshman year in 2000. Do you think that a two-quarterback situation can cause some unease amongst teammates? Do teammates have ‘their guy' at quarterback, or is that overblown?

Clauss: I think that is way overblown. Any good player goes out there and tries to play his best at all times, it doesn't matter who the quarterback is. There is familiarity with some guys, that will be there. Then comes experience. A good player who is worth his salt, gives his best effort at all times. If his play ramps up because someone else is in the huddle, I don't know if that is the kind of guy you want out there. The work ethic that the staff put in their players is something not predicated on who else is in the huddle, rather doing the best you can at all times.

Q: You have been a part of a lot of great memories and plays in that stadium. How is it watching a play like Andy Brodell's punt return up in the stands and not through a facemask? Is it a different type of emotion?

Clauss: It is different, but it's the same kind of elation that everyone else in the stands had. I was happy to see him return a kick for a score, he hasn't done that. When you have been around the players and realize they are quality guys out there, working hard just like you were, representing the Hawkeye fans…and when you see a kid like that have a big moment in a big game, it makes you feel good. Where I was sitting in the stands, as soon as he caught it, it just looked right. The stars were aligned, I knew if he could beat that first guy, I thought it looked good. It sure was. Obviously, while you are playing, it's exciting in that regard but when you are watching games, it's a feeling of just knowing you have been through it and you know how special that must have been for Andy and the rest of the team.

Q: For you watching big games like this, the Iowa-Iowa State game now, did you have a tight stomach in the fourth quarter when it was tied? Did you experience that type of emotion during your playing days?

Clauss: I didn't have a sick feeling, because if you have a solid defense, you can do a lot of things. If you have a solid defense, you control the clock, the field position game, you have solid special teams and an offense that can move the ball, you shouldn't get too worried. Iowa does have a solid defense and Iowa State couldn't do anything against it. Once again, people might say that Iowa State had more yardage than Iowa. At the end of the game when ISU is completing six yard passes and taking 40 seconds off the clock, that is what Iowa wanted them to do. They were being patient, they were giving up the under stuff, and I felt confident that if they stayed with that they would be successful and they were.

Q: Pittsburgh this coming week, they are a bit of an old school team, more I Formation looks, similar to Iowa. Power formations, based on a running game. Do you think this is a good match up for Iowa's defense?

Clauss: We will see. That is what they saw during camp, and now it has been three weeks of scout teams and teams that have shown them other things. It will be a big game. Every team responds differently on the road. It will be exciting to see how this team responds. On paper, like you said, it could be something that Iowa should match up well against, but it's all predicated on how the team responds on this upcoming Saturday. Nothing is fixed on paper, things have to be played out. But I know their emotions are high, their confidence is growing and it's great to be a Hawkeye right now.

Jared 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. He played for Iowa (1999-2003) as well as the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League

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