Monday Morning Quarterback with Jared Clauss

Former Hawkeye Jared Clauss came away from Iowa's win against Wisconsin very impressed with the play of the Hawkeye offensive line and Shonn Greene. That was just for starters. In part one of our two part conversation with Clauss, he talks about the finer points of Iowa's offensive and defensive line play as well as what may go into Shonn Greene's decisions AFTER this season...

Q: I know this sounds cliché, but let's start with the offensive line. I have watched the game a second time, but even a guy like me could see it live; that was a pretty amazing display of execution on the blocking scheme along the line. What did you see? Did you see anything different schematically? Why did they have so much success against a team like Wisconsin?

Jared Clauss: What I saw was a good mix of play action; they would run the draw, then the draw play action, they ran the outside zone then a boot off of that. Then the inside zone and then faking it and stretching the field. I thought the play calling was complimentary. I can't watch every offensive lineman each play, but I seem to be focusing on Bruggeman a lot. He was reaching the nose all day long. I have experience there; if you get reached at nose, you can't stop the run. I commend him for having a good game and it looked like the rest of the offensive line was staying on their blocks a looong time. That is extremely frustrating as a defensive lineman. You think you have a guy beat, but as you are ready to make the tackle, he is still hanging on you and you can't get a form tackle on a guy and he runs through your arm tackle. They were feisty, persistent and firing on all cylinders.

Q: You were a part of the 2002 team and went up against that line in practice, and I know it's hard to judge seasons against each other because its not in a vacuum, but in all of your years of watching Kirk Ferentz football, this line play through eight games would have to rank up there highly with their best units.

Clauss: They are doing well. The key is they are playing well as a group. It seems to be consistent to me. You don't get a guy just flat out blowing a block, or missing a blitzer. It seems to be consistent play, and everyone knows on the line that is paramount. You can't have one guy have a bad game, because it makes the rest of the guys look like they are not doing their job. They rely on communication and being on the same page, and they have been through eight games.

Q: Were you surprised to see the offensive line miss a guy like Seth Olsen and really play well in his absence?

Clauss: Andy Kuempel and Rafael Eubanks did their part; that is why they give out 85 scholarships. You never know who will be healthy, and it was good to see those guys step in. Andy didn't expect that at the start of the week, but by the end of the week he was prepared and it looked like he performed very well. It will be nice to get Olsen back in there. You can't replace experience. He has two weeks off now to get healthy.

Q: The receivers were blocking well; that has to be easier to be motivated to do that when Shonn Greene is behind you. The tight ends did a great job blocking again yesterday as well. But Shonn Greene…how special is he, based on your years of watching Iowa football? You saw Sedrick Shaw, Tavian Banks and you were around Ladell Betts and Fred Russell.

Clauss: I didn't play with Shaw or Banks, but when I think about it, I think of those guys as speed guys. I remember Shaw being pretty shifty, and Tavian could fly. Ladell, playing with him, I think he is one of the best all purpose backs I have been around in terms of flat out running ability, catching, blocking. Shonn seems to have it all, too. I was pleasantly surprised to see him in the open field, it wasn't just a head of steam. He was shifting a little bit, and that is encouraging. It was also great to see him outrun some guys on that draw play. Those were defensive backs chasing him. He seems to have it all, and I like his attitude out there. He is not running around pounding his chest, talking about how good he is. He gets up slowly off the ground and gets back to the huddle and does it again.

Q: You were around Fred Russell and Dallas Clark when they made their decisions to leave one year of eligibility on the shelf at Iowa and turn pro. Are you aware of what kind of conversations take place between the coaches and players in this situation? Shonn will be 24 years old next year in August, and given the type of year he is having this year, he will have some options.

Clauss: I didn't sit in on Dallas' meeting, and I wasn't good enough to have that be an option to leave early. I don't know how they handle it. I would guess what Coach Ferentz would do is present it to them. He wouldn't advise them either way. He would say this is where I think you will be drafted and this is what I think if you came back. I don't know exactly, because I haven't been there. My advice to Shonn, and we still have some games left to play, but if he is going to go out early, make it worth it. I know that seems obvious, but a lot of guys come out early thinking that one year has earned them a first round draft slot. You see a lot of guys waiting a long time, and then you are stuck. If you don't feel like you are going to be a really high draft pick, I come back and play again. You can cement yourself even more with another successful year. We still have some games to play here, and you can't walk into that trap and think about that stuff as it will affect your play. But the way he has been playing, he keeps getting better. I am guessing he is not worried about this stuff; he is just focused on winning some football games right now.

Q: The Iowa defensive line isn't getting a lot of sacks this year, but the word harassing comes to my mind when I think of their play against the pass. We have seen more than a few quarterbacks as of late throwing some high passes in the second half of some games. Even though they are not getting home on the line, the quarterback is getting some happy feet. Is that how you have been seeing it? What kind of pressure have you been seeing?

Clauss: It's tough when they are using a lot more three man rushes this year, it's tough to get a rush. Two out of the three guys are getting a double team. You can't rush very successfully that way. But what they are trying to do there is max out the coverage and get hands in the passing lane, you see the nose guard spying a lot and trying to knock down balls. You would like to see a little more pressure, but sometimes hurrying a quarterback throw is just as good as a sack. I thought I saw some good pass rush moves from Mitch and Matt. There were a lot of on the fly tackle games this past week as opposed to shifting down early. It worked a few times. I think the key point is the quarterback is not sitting back there for five seconds and not getting sacked, he is throwing the ball pretty quick. It takes a while for a rush to get there, too. They have some good offensive lines to play against coming up, and they will have their hands full.

Part Two of our weekly conversation with Clauss will be online late Monday Evening

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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