Monday Morning Quarterback with Jared Clauss

The Iowa Hawkeyes suffered a painful one-point loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday, their first game of the season. There were some key coaches decisions in this game, and also some areas where Iowa didn't perform as well as they would have liked. We talk about those things and more with former Hawkeye Jared Clauss...

Q: What were your thoughts on Saturday with regards to the Hawks being in a position to win the game? They had a lead in the fourth quarter, then lost it, and had a few chances to come back and put things away but couldn't get the job done.

Jared Clauss: Well, I agree. I think it was a winnable game against a good opponent. Iowa played well enough to win, and when you are that close, it makes it that much harder to accept a loss like that. I was grumpy all Saturday, I am sure a lot of Hawk fans were too because we were right there and it would have been a big road win and it just didn't happen.

Q: Does every team have its own road personality?

Clauss: I think every team I have ever been on had a different personality. I don't think year to year it varies that much. Good players strive to play their best whenever they can. I didn't notice a big difference between road or home in terms of guys getting more excited or more prepared during the week, it's a matter of getting out there and executing. I wouldn't say there was a huge difference. I remember seeing a step up in energy when we played a night game or something on national television, I know some guys really fed off of that. But in terms of road games, I think everyone prepares the same way and tries to win the game.

Q: Jake Christensen played the entire second half, after Rick Stanzi was 7 of 10 in the third quarter. Some Iowa fans are struggling with this decision. Do you have a take on it?

Clauss: I trust the coaches, I trust their decision making. That is what they get paid to do. Obviously they felt Jake was the better guy to go with in the second half and I respect that. Hindsight is 20/20, and you can look back and say that Jake missed that play or made that play and you think someone else could have done that. I hope they realize the coaches are there every day watching these guys and their success depends on the success of their players. They feed their families being coaches and they are going to make the best decisions in their opinion, and that is what they thought. I am behind them on that. I don't second guess them.

Q: Shonn Greene has been very fun to watch; people are not bringing him down right away.

Clauss: He is a good weapon. As a former defensive lineman, I respect the way he runs because its difficult on us. He puts his shoulders down, he doesn't dance at the line of scrimmage, which is good for a defensive lineman when you do that, but he puts his shoulder down and hits the hold. He gets downfield, there isn't a lot of juking. He runs over guys. There is a lot to be said about your ability to get yards after first contact. The great running backs either make guys miss or get yards after first contact. He is doing a great job of getting those yards. I am excited to see what he does in the Big Ten, because he has had some good games against some different defensive styles and that is exciting too.

Q: Have you noticed any issues with the wide receivers not getting much separation between them and the defensive backs?

Clauss: We have talked about how close teams are in college football now. You are not getting cornerbacks that don't deserve to be out there, they are good players every week, no matter how big or small the school is. These guys can play. You would like to see them get more separation and get open more, but it won't always be there. You rarely see blown assignments, you rarely see guys making complete mental busts or getting beat flat out. To make great plays now, its one guy really stepping up and doing something extraordinary and we need more of that. We need to get back on track against Northwestern.

Q: On defense, Christian Ballard had his best game of the year, and Broderick Binns continues to impress the heck out of me.

Clauss: Broderick looks fast. I think he has a little bounce to him. It's encouraging at such a young age, as I saw him make decisions quickly. He wasn't second guessing what he was doing out there, especially on his sack. He saw a weak tackle block down, and they work on that all of the time and he read it right and made a decision to get upfield which is his job. That is encouraging to see him not second guess himself. I was encouraged to see some penetration in the second half from the line, they were wearing down that offensive line and bringing pressure. All in all, it was slow to start for pressure, but I think the defensive line played well.

Q: The defensive secondary has played well this year. Granted, I don't think they have been tested all that much and there are several quarterbacks on the remainder of the schedule that will have them earning their accolades. What have you seen?

Clauss: I think they look good and we have talked about this; they are making the plays that are there for them to make. When Pitt was scoring, it was great individual effort by the quarterbacks, and one breakdown on the run. The guys are making the plays they need to make. No one is wide open, they are contesting jump balls, deep balls downfield, they are getting a hand on it trying to strip it away even if it is caught. They are out there making plays and that is a good sign with so many young guys back there.

Q: With the Big Ten season starting this week, does Coach Ferentz do anything differently to start things out, anything different in preparation for that portion of the season?

Clauss: The only thing that will change is that Coach Ferentz will definitely emphasize the fact that the non conference is over. Whether or not they were 4-0, 0-4, 3-1, 1-3; they have 8 games to win a conference championship. They have a good Northwestern team coming in and I know they will stress the fact they are 0-0 in the Big Ten. The league looks strong, and I know it will be a good run for them. I am excited because I think this Northwestern match up is good for them. They have been playing well enough and it will be a great test for the things we have been talking about tonight; defensive backs with a solid quarterback coming in. It will be a good test and I will be excited to see them back in Kinnick.

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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